A few months ago Naspers announced that they would be listing Multichoice separately on the JSE. For many of us, this seemed like a sign of doom and gloom as our gut feeling was that this move was meant to ditch Multichoice and their satellite TV business model which looks to be on the verge of being made extinct by Video on Demand services like Netflix. Anyway, that’s a future that is yet to be played out but Multichoice has indeed been listed on the JSE.
The media company joined the JSE yesterday morning and their shares started trading at R95/share. The newly formed company will be called Multichoice Group and will be comprised of Multichoice South Africa, Multichoice Africa, Showmax Africa and Irdeto.
Trouble in paradise?
Though the company is just freshly listed there seems to be some dispute concerning the listing already. The communications regulator, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), has expressed concerns over the company being listed even though there are concerns over a breach of it’s broadcasting service licence.
DStv has been operational for years, what could be the problem here? Well, MultiChoice was hauled before Icasa’s Complaints and Compliance Committee on February 18 after non-profit organisation Khulisa Social Solutions said that MultiChoice’s listing on the JSE constitutes a transfer of its individual broadcasting service licence from Naspers to the management and board of MultiChoice.
The problem here lies with the fact that the transfer of licence, which was sparked by Naspers’s decision to unbundle MultiChoice into a standalone listed entity, occurred without either company obtaining permission from Icasa under the Electronic Communications Act. Or at least that’s what Khulisa is arguing.
Khulisa argues that Naspers reneged on its promise to seek approval and inform regulatory authorities about the transfer of control when it announced its decision to unbundle MultiChoice. Multichoice reps are confident that they haven’t done much wrong:
We have engaged constructively with Icasa’s Complaints and Compliance Committee to resolve the matter.
In its answering affidavit to Khulisa’s complaint, the company said the licenced entity is MultiChoice and that MultiChoice will continue to be the holder of the broadcasting licence.
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