The Independent Newspaper group (what’s in a name?) published a poorly researched article in the business section of several of its titles on Monday 21 July, relating to the ongoing differences between TellyTrack and the bookmakers.
TellyTrack responded with a press release on Thursday, followed by a response from Hollywoodbets on Monday.
The latter two are published below.
Things certainly are hotting up!
Tellytrack Sets The Record Straight
On 21st July an article by Wiseman Khuzwayo entitled ‘Hollywoodbets to defend R350m Tellytrack lawsuit’ appeared in a number of online and traditional media publications. The article contained a number of factual inaccuracies which requires both correction and clarification, according to Tellytrack CEO, John Stuart.
The facts are:
- The Tellytrack court case against Hollywood is in respect of the flagrant beach of the Tellytrack copyrighted local service by Hollywood and does not, as stated in the article, ”arise out of the desire by Phumelela to ‘level the playing fields’ with bookmakers”.
- Tellytrack ascertained that its local service (as broadcast on Multichoice’s DSTV channel 239) was being displayed at the betting outlets of the Hollywood Group.
- The agreement between Tellytrack’s partners and MultiChoice permits the display of the Tellytrack local service only in private homes, hotels, hospitals and prisons and NOT in betting outlets. In turn, the subscription agreement between MultiChoice and its subscribers does not permit the display of the Tellytrack channel 239 in betting outlets.
- Tellytrack has instituted civil proceedings for breach of its copyright and is claiming unpaid license fees PLUS punitive damages to the amount of R 315 million (not R 350 million as quoted in the article).
- Whilst 156 bookmaker betting outlets have been licensed and are legally displaying the Tellytrack local service, the service is being displayed in a number of other bookmakers’ betting outlets without being licensed to do so. Further civil proceedings have been or are in the process of being instituted against all bookmakers who have been or are found doing so.
- In addition to the civil proceedings, Tellytrack has lodged and will lodge criminal complaints with the S.A. Police against the contravening bookmakers.
Hollywood Sets The Record Straight
On 24th of July Tellytrack put out a press release “Tellytrack puts the record straight”. The content of this press release does not reflect the real issue underlying the dispute between bookmakers, including Hollywoodbets, and Tellytrack, an entity controlled by Phumelela Gaming and Leisure (Phumelela). The real issue that forms the basis of the dispute between the parties is the disregard, by Phumelela, of the licensing condition in terms whereof they operate horseracing in Gauteng.
The Gauteng Gambling Board (GGB), in their licensing condition, has determined that bookmakers must be given access to horse racing telecast and commentary on a cost recovery basis and that any payment set by Phumelela for this service must be sanctioned by the Board. The Eastern Cape Gambling Board has imposed a similar condition.
This payment has never before been an issue between the parties and Hollywoodbets has over many years diligently made such payments and has no intention to cease making these payments. Phumelela on the other hand, in flagrant disregard of the licensing condition, has attempted to unilaterally impose on all bookmakers payments which are three or more times the last amount properly determined and sanctioned by the GGB. The payment required is unrelated to their costs in providing this service and is not sanctioned by the GGB. This is the real basis of the dispute between the parties.
Hollywoodbets and many other bookmakers have laid a complaint with the GGB in regard to the contravention of the aforesaid licensing condition and are currently awaiting a decision in this matter. If disciplinary steps are taken against Phumelela and they are found to have contravened their licensing condition, they may be fined R10 million and have their licence revoked in terms of s 37 of the Gauteng Gambling Act.
This matter is also currently pending before the Competition Commission where complaints of an abuse of their dominant position against Phumelela, laid by the bookmakers, are currently under investigation. If Phumelela is found to have abused their dominant position, it may be fined up to 10% of their annual turnover.
In addition, the claims by Tellytrack that it enjoys copyright in relation to certain material broadcast on DStv channel 239 operated by MultiChoice, are presently the subject of an action instituted in the High Court by Tellytrack. Tellytrack, in their press statement, is also quite disingenuous in relation to the detail it provides regarding this High Court action. In the first place, it fails to inform that their claims in this matter are based on the vastly increased and unsanctioned payment demands. In the second place, it is incorrect for Tellytrack to state that they have instituted damages claims in the amount of R315 million. Two days prior to the current press release Tellytrack amended their claim for R315 million by deleting any reference to the R315 million or indeed any other amount. This amendment was resorted to when Tellytrack was required to provide particulars as to how the amount of R315 million was arrived at. Instead of providing the requisite particulars Tellytrack elected to remove any reference to the amount of the damages claimed. It is clear that the amount claimed bears no resemblance to reality and was no more than an attempt to intimidate Hollywoodbets and other bookmakers.
Hollywoodbets will vigorously defend all actions brought by Tellytrack and will pursue all courses of actions against Phumelela until they are resolved. Hollywoodbets wishes, however, to assure all concerned, in particular the betting public, that it will make every effort to bring the aforesaid dispute to a fair and speedy resolution