MultiChoice’s DStv quits Malawi after court ruling

South Africa-based pay TV operator MultiChoice is shutting down its DStv service in Malawi indefinitely following an injunction forbidding its local subsidiary from changing the tariffs for the offering.

MultiChoice Africa Holdings (MAH) said its decision followed an injunction issued by the High Court in Lilongwe in a matter between MultiChoice Malawi (MCM) and the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) prohibiting an adjustment to the DStv tariffs.

MAH has argued that its local subsidiary is not responsible for setting prices for the service, which are set by the parent company independently. MultiChoice Malawi does not offer DStv to the Malawi public. The local outfit is responsible for the digital-terrestrial GOtv offering, for which it applied and received approval from the regulator for price adjustments.

Having argued repeatedly that the Malawi operation was not responsible for the DStv service, MAH said the subsidiary was incapable of complying with the court order to implement MACRA’s ruling on prices.

Since failure to comply could have “grave consequences for the directors and management of MultiChoice Malawi, including imprisonment”, it said it was withdrawing DStv from the country.

Customers who have already paid their new subscription for the DStv service will have those services honored until the current 30 day viewing cycle ends on or before 10 September 2023. From Wednesday, 9 August 2023, no new subscriptions or reconnections will be accepted.

The injunction was originally issued on July 31, but MultiChoice Malawi obtained a stay of injunction, subsequently extended until last Friday.

The Rest of Africa segment outside of its home market of South Africa is a key growth area for MultiChoice. Its performance in the South African market has been adversely impacted by inflation, which has increased costs and put pressure on its customer base.

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