The Competition Commission has ruled that a channel distribution agreement between the SABC and MultiChoice signed in 2013 constitutes a notifiable merger. It wants the public broadcaster and Africa’s largest pay-TV operator to register the transaction as a merger, failing which they will be in violation of competition laws. The five-year agreement worth R500m, gave MultiChoice the right to broadcast SABC’s 24-hour news channel and an entertainment channel, SABC Encore. In 2015 it emerged that as part of the deal the SABC undertook to back MultiChoice’s position on digital migration, which was that set-top boxes to convert the digital signal to analogue after migration would not be encrypted. Then SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoneng got an R11m “bonus” for negotiating the contract. The ruling by the commission has taken both MultiChoice and the SABC by surprise as it contradicted two previous rulings by the Competition Tribunal and the Competition Appeals Court that the agreement was not a me...

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