CC image courtesy of GovernmentZA on Flickr.
South Africa’s Department of Communications (DoC) has issued a statement saying pay-TV provider MultiChoice cannot speak for the poor after the company told minister of communications Yunus Carrim to put consumers first.
The dispute started after MultiChoice, Act-SA and the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronics Components (NAMEC) published an open letter to Carrim, imploring him to rid the set-top boxes needed for digital migration of “unnecessary and expensive” technology and “encryption… which is used to control access to TV service”.
Carrim responded by saying the letter was “astonishingly inaccurate and serves to substantially weaken the case of those opposed to the government’s policy”.
MultiChoice retaliated by saying it was disillusioned by the minister’s comments on digital migration.
“MultiChoice is extremely disappointed at the response to date by the minister of communications to attempts by our company, 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,” said MultiChoice.
“We urge him to put the interests of consumers first,” the company said.
The pay-TV provider said the minister had accused it, along with NAMEC and the community TV sector, of “misrepresenting” the situation surrounding digital migration.
The minister’s spokesperson, Siya Qoza, responded by saying: “MultiChoice cannot speak for the poor. It has no mandate from them. It is the poor, after all, who are excluded from watching MultiChoice, including major sports events, over which it has exclusive control.
“If it cares so much for consumers, why does it charge so much for its services and excludes the poor?”