MultiChoice withdrawal frightens Malawi government
The withdrawal of pay-TV giant MultiChoice from Malawi has frightened the government, which is concerned about the loss of business, entertainment, education, and information for its citizens.
The government is currently pushing for a 'win-win' agreement with a pan-African pay-TV business founded in South Africa.
Moses Kunkuyu, a spokesman for the ministry of information and government, explained the government's concerns to a local radio station, Zodiak Broadcasting Station, stating MultiChoice's withdrawal will have a crushing impact on the economy, including tax revenue received by the government.
MultiChoice suspended broadcasting services in Malawi "with immediate effect" on Tuesday.
This comes after the High Court in Lilongwe imposed an injunction preventing pricing adjustments in a case involving MultiChoice Malawi (MCM) and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority.
As a result, the firm stated that the order handed down to MCM is incapable of being implemented by them but carries with it grave consequences for the directors and management of MultiChoice Malawi, including imprisonment.
MultiChoice further stated that, given the implications of the judgement and an increasingly hostile regulatory environment, it is forced to cease the DStv service indefinitely.
"Customers are hereby and immediately requested to discontinue payment for the DStv service. Customers who have already paid for their new DStv subscription will have their services honoured until the current 30-day viewing cycle finishes on or before September 10, 2023. No new memberships or reconnections will be accepted after Wednesday, August 9, 2023," said the company.
MultiChoice has been under pressure in its home market of South Africa as pay-TV viewership continues to fall, and the company is increasingly relying on its operations in the rest of Africa to stay profitable.
During the fiscal year ending March 20, 2023, MultiChoice brought its Rest of Africa business to profitability and extended its consumer services ecosystem.
"We continued to grow our overall subscriber base and benefited from a strong performance in Rest of Africa, which delivered a trading profit for the first time since our initial public offering in 2019. Considering that the team has had to absorb nearly $159 million (R3 billion) in currency losses over the last four years, it is a remarkable performance," stated Calvo Mawela, Chief Executive Officer at the time.
He added: "We increased the breadth and depth of services offered to our customers and continued to grow our entertainment ecosystem, most notably through our recent streaming partnership with Comcast."