Magazine article Variety

Competition Probe Hits S. Africa Feevee

Magazine article Variety

Competition Probe Hits S. Africa Feevee

Article excerpt

Following the failure of another fledgling pay TV operator in Kenya last month, a competition watchdog is probing whether South African giant MultiChoice's DStv is using an unfair competitive advantage to push other players out of the Kenyan market.

Smart TV, owned by Sweden's Next Generation Broadcasting, pulled out of Kenya in February, just over a year after entering the East African nation. The platform struggled to take hold in a market dominated for two decades by DStv; in more than a year Smart TV managed to attract only around 2,000 subscribers.

The move was a further reflection of the struggles facing new pay TV entrants in Kenya.

The investigation of MultiChoice, led by Kenya's newly minted Competition Authority, alleges that the South African platform used its exclusive deals for premium content - including the lucrative rights to soccer broadcasts from the English Premier League - to prevent competitors from gaining a foothold in Kenya.

MultiChoice Kenya confirmed that it received a letter from the Competition Authority, and that me authority "emphasized that neither the letter nor the existence of these investigations should be viewed as an accusation or determination . . . of wrongdoing by anyone."

The company added that it was cooperating with the probe.

Just a few years ago, the Kenyan market seemed poised for a major shake-up, as new players entered the arena and targeted the millions of low-income Kenyans who had been priced out by DStv.

GTV, owned by U.K.-based Gateway Broadcast Services, was heralded as a game-changer when it debuted in 2007. …

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