Openview owner eMedia has launched legal action against MultiChoice over DStv’s Supersport monopoly broadcasting rights for the Rugby World Cup.
Openview announced its legal action in full-page advertisements in the Sunday Times, Rapport, and City Press.
Through this campaign, Openviews tries to gain support from South Africans for its campaign against MultiChoice through emotive language.
“South Africa, Let’s fight the good fight. Let’s be united. Let’s get the rugby to all who have SABC 2,” it said.
“The court is engaged. The court will decide if digitally migrated Openview homes will get to see the Rugby World Cup.”
“The court will decide if Openview homes, who must pay TV licences, get to see The Rugby World Cup on SABC 2.”
“Join us in eradicating monopoly unfair control domination in sports that should unite our Nation!”
MultiChoice confirmed that it had received the legal application served on it by Openview owner eMedia.
“We consider the application to be without merit and have notified eMedia of our intention to oppose it,” it said.
Battle over sporting rights
The dispute between SuperSport and South Africa’s free-to-air broadcasters made headlines after the SABC refused to pay what MultiChoice asked.
Media reports suggest that the SABC refused to pay $2 million (R38 million) to sub-licence all seven confirmed and potential Springbok matches from MultiChoice.
The SABC argued that it could not secure advertisers at such short notice to recoup the costs of the broadcasting rights.
However, a week later, South African Breweries, Hollywoodbets, and Pineapple had reportedly agreed to pay the SABC $3 million (R57 million) to help secure a deal.
The final deal included more matches but excluded eMedia’s satellite TV platform.
From MultiChoice’s perspective, eMedia is seeking a free ride to show some of the year’s most valuable South African sporting content on its platform.
eMedia has also started launching satellite pay-TV products on its existing Openview infrastructure — called Ultraview — becoming more of a direct competitor to DStv.
From Openview and the SABC’s perspectives, the South African government punted the satellite platform as an option for households to migrate to digital TV.
Openview also has no direct way of monetising the SABC channels on its platform, making it difficult to contribute towards the public broadcaster sub-licensing the rights from SuperSport.
Although Openview carries several SABC channels, it can’t place any of its own advertising on them. All advertising revenue generated by the channels goes to the public broadcaster.
This carriage deal between Openview and the SABC came after a dispute between the companies a decade ago.
The SABC had wanted to block Openview from broadcasting its channels, as it wanted eMedia to pay for carrying them.
However, the SABC’s interdict against Openview was ultimately dismissed with costs in August 2014.