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Naspers gets okay on TV deal

$590 million purchase of M-Net approved

JOHANNESBURG — Media company Naspers’ rand 4 billion ($590 million) purchase of the 38% stake in paybox M-Net and its sports arm SuperSport from Johnnic Communications was approved Nov. 12, by the Competition Tribunal, overruling objections from rival Caxton.

This gives pay TV monopoly holder Naspers full ownership of M-Net and SuperSport before the pay TV market opens up to new competition next year.

Naspers has held the monopoly for two decades, first through terrestrial paycaster M-Net and then through pan-African satcaster MultiChoice, which bowed 12 years ago.

The tribunal dismissed Caxton’s concerns that full control of such an asset would enable Naspers to bundle its advertising with print media to the detriment of other media companies.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa in September granted pay TV licenses to Telkom Media, e.sat, On Digital Media and Walking on Water. License conditions are being finalized with the new operators expected to start broadcasting next year.

Leading media companies, which have stakes in print, cinema distribution and exhibition, radio and new media, have been jockeying for position in the media industry for the past year with plans to diversify and expand.

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