MultiChoice ups ante with Carrim

MultiChoice has upped the ante further with communications minister Yunus Carrim in its efforts to have encryption in digital television set-top boxes scrapped. By Duncan McLeod.


Yunus Carrim

MultiChoice has upped the ante further with communications minister Yunus Carrim over government’s policy on the use of encryption in digital terrestrial television. In a statement, it has accused the minister of not telling the truth when he claimed that MultiChoice and its partners were misrepresenting the situation.

Tensions between the pay-television operator, which owns DStv, M-Net and SuperSport, have been rising since the weekend when it published an open letter to Carrim in Sunday newspapers in which it accused him of advancing the “narrow commercial interests” of “certain” broadcasters, in a clear reference to rival

Carrim hit back, labelling MultiChoice a bullying monopoly and saying the letter was “astonishingly inaccurate” and served to “substantially weaken the case of those opposed to the government’s policy”.

MultiChoice and are engaged in a high-stakes war over whether the set-top boxes that consumers will need to watch digital television when the country switches off analogue broadcasts should contain a control system based on encryption technology. Carrim has been trying to reach a compromise agreement between the warring parties, but that now appears impossible.

MultiChoice now says it is “extremely disappointed at the response to date” by Carrim to efforts by it and by “black-owned electronics companies and the community TV sector to raise public awareness about the negative impact of the department of communications’ digital migration policy on the poor”.

“We urge him to put the interests of consumers first,” MultiChoice’s statement says.

“Over the past few days, the minister has accused MultiChoice, Namec [the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronic Components] and the community TV sector of ‘misrepresenting’ the situation. Nothing could be further from the truth,” MultiChoice says.

“MultiChoice, the SABC, the community television sector and Namec are all on record in support of the ‘unencrypted’ set box option because of its multiple benefits to South African television viewers.

“The minister has disregarded all our voices and attempted to deny anyone but himself the opportunity to speak for millions of South African television viewers.

“Rather than engage with the merits of the debate, the minister has chosen to divert attention by questioning the position that MultiChoice occupies as a significant contributor to the broadcasting industry, and the South African economy in general.

“We have to ask why. If South African consumers don’t matter, who does?” the statement continues.

“It is clear that, like everywhere else in the world, an unencrypted option is not only the best low-cost option in terms of initial outlay, but is cheaper in terms of ongoing costs to consumers.

“Tagging those who choose to differ from him as ‘bullies’ does not contribute to a solution that is in the best interests of South African television consumers.

“We remain open to constructive engagement on this matter, but believe the minister is ill advised. We, however, welcome the minister’s comments that he remains open to dialogue.”  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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  • DM

    What does Multichoice have to loose if encryption technology is included? Would it perhaps allow for pay TV to be offered in future? We havent heard etv side of the story. I suspect Mutichoice haveulterior motives

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    >>“MultiChoice, the SABC, the community television sector and Namec are all on record in support of the ‘unencrypted’ set box option because of its multiple benefits to South African television viewers.

    Wake up!! This is not about Multichoice but about the South African consumer who will be effectively carrying the burden of forever paying for a foolish digital plan unlike the rest of the world which uses open standards and have no need for the digital STB option as it is already built into new digital TVs by many TV manufacturers.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Yes… eTV wants government to pay for their CA platform.
    I do believe that DSTV would also benefit from encryption/CA – they have all the content, I don’t see why they couldn’t put together a cheap bouquet to sell over DTT, alongside everyone else?

  • hellboy

    Looks like MultiChoice are struggling to deal with a competent minister.

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    is the problem that you’ll always encounter after having successive clueless individuals occupying a leadership position… any new person coming in that keeps
    being busy (even if it’s banging their heads against a brick wall whilst
    achieving nothing) can be mistaken for being competent.

  • hellboy

    The problem is incompetent ministers allowed monopolies to thrive, and now we have a motivated and competent minister dealing with the fallback. Achievements, or lack of, is not a true reflection of his competence, the situation maybe too far gone for even an individual in his position of power to correct.

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    Granted… but in the case of unencrypted vs encrypted FTA signals then what would be most beneficial to the consumer is pretty obvious and it wouldn’t be accurate to suggest that:

    >> the situation maybe too far gone for even an individual in his position of power to correct.

  • hellboy

    In a fair and competitive pay TV market it maybe obvious, however SA’s market is unfair and definitely noncompetitive.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    >>the situation maybe too far gone for even an individual in his position of power to correct

    I believe it’s salvageable by the right person, but too far gone for THIS individual to correct. I’m not too sure how much of that is due to the political baggage he brings along, which means he answers to the ANC’s whims and not the voters.

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    I’m sorry…

    Seems like somewhere along the line I missed the point when digital migration became all about competitive pay TV?

    Now I recall… it happened when Etv decided to hijack the process and turn into some ill-conceived scheme so that the tax payer could help them compete against DStv.

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