NBC accused of blocking competition from the market

Dina //Gowases

The Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) says the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) may have violated the law by restricting market access or hindering technological development.

Specifically, the commission suspects NBC of engaging in conduct prohibited under the Competition Act.

NaCC spokesperson Dina //Gowases says the commission has granted NBC a period of 30 days, within which it can make any written submissions or indicate whether it would require an opportunity to make oral representations, in terms of sections 36 and 37 of the Competition Act, respectively.

“While emphasising that a final decision has not been made in this matter, the commission notes the provisions of section 40 of the Competition Act and confirms the opportunity available to the parties to engage the commission for possible settlement of this matter and avoid proceedings under section 38 of the Competition Act,” she says.

This comes after the commission concluded its investigation against NBC for alleged possible anti-competitive unilateral conduct that stifles competition through limiting of market access to other free-to-air broadcasters on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Network.

“The alleged conduct gives rise to the possible limiting of market outlets or access, investment, technical development or technological progress, a conduct prohibited in terms of section 26 (1) read together with section 26 (2) (b) of the Competition Act,” //Gowases says.

The investigation identified the relevant market for the use of the Namibian DTT Network to provide free-to-air broadcasting.

NaCC concluded that the relevant provisions of the Competition Act have been infringed upon, based on the unilateral conduct of NBC to remove other free-to-air broadcasters from the DTT Network.

The Namibian DTT policy guidelines designate NBC as the common carrier for the DTT Network and impose an obligation on NBC to perform its common carrier powers in a “fair, equitable, reasonable, non-preferential and non-discriminatory basis to any and all broadcasting licensees who request for such services”.

The fact that the DTT policy guidelines imposes the aforementioned provisions on NBC’s common carrier powers is clear evidence that the DTT infrastructure is essential for other market participants to access the relevant market.

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