The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa)
received a tongue-lashing on Friday for delaying competition in the
digital television market, writes Zweli Mokgata in Business Times.
When Icasa chairman Paris Mashile announced the finalised regulations for digital terrestrial television (DTT), On Digital Media ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â one of the five recently awarded pay TV licences ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â accused the authority of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œentrenching a monopolyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â.
On Digital said Icasa was going against its mandate of opening the market to increased competition, more consumer choice and lower prices.
Under IcasaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s new regulations for DTT, which will replace the current analogue system being used to broadcast free-to-air television, three frequency multiplexes (or frequency dividends) with the capacity to carry eight channels each will be allocated.
The first dividend (Multiplex 1) was assigned to SABC with 10% set aside for the religious channel Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
In Multiplex 2, 60% of the frequency was allocated to e.tv while the whole of Multiplex 3 was given to M-Net.
Dimitri Martinis, On Digital MediaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s head of regulatory affairs, said: ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve got serious concerns about the allocation of the spectrum.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWhat if SABC, which already has serious funding concerns, doesnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t utilise all its spectrum? WeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll be sitting with unused capacity while incumbents continue to dominate the industry,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
Click here to read the full report, posted on the Business Times website.