Mzansi Community Satellite TV, trading as GauTV, wants to launch a satellite television bouquet catering to Gauteng residents, specifically those who haven’t traditionally enjoyed satellite services. It plans to launch services within six months of receiving a licence to broadcast.
GauTV, if it gets the go-ahead from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), will be a free-to-air satellite bouquet but will require consumers to buy a set-top box to receive the signal.
Icasa will on Wednesday hear an application from Mzansi for a community satellite television broadcasting licence. If it secures the licence, the prospective broadcaster plans to launch a 24-hour channel followed by additional channels in the months after launch. If it receives the licence in the next month or two, it expects to begin broadcasting early next year.
Avhasei Mukoma, chairman of Mukoma Attorneys, which is representing Mzansi, says GauTV will be available in Gauteng exclusively and will air only locally produced content.
He says the company hopes to source content from producers within Gauteng’s various municipalities and stimulate the production sector by commissioning new content.
GauTV will buy third-party content during its first 12-18 months of operation in order to provide a 24-hour channel, but all material will be local, Mukoma says. “At the outset, there is lots of content you can tap into. Local news, current affairs, religious programming, sport – all of these can be purchased off the shelf.”
He says quality content attracts audiences and GauTV hopes to cover local sporting events, including hockey, tennis, netball and athletics and “not just soccer”.
Investors have injected sufficient capital into the endeavour to make it sustainable for two years without additional funding.
Mukoma says GauTV expects to look for further investment only in the second year of operation.
He says GauTV will be funded through sponsorships, advertising and government support. “We also have private donors who have committed start-up and working capital for the first two operating years,” Mukoma says.
Mzansi Community Satellite TV’s application is the first of its sort in SA, prompting Icasa to hold this week’s public hearings.
The service will be encrypted so only people in Gauteng can receive it, Mukoma says. The cost of the set-top boxes hasn’t been set yet, but they will not be more expensive than decoders sold by DStv operator MultiChoice.
The service is aimed at a broader audience than pay TV. “We’re looking at those that have never owned a dish or decoder and are targeting all LSMs (living standard measures), not just the upper LSMs.”
State-owned Sentech will be GauTV’s service provider and broadcasting signal distributor. The two parties have already signed a memorandum of understanding.
Mukoma says the funders behind the initiative believe they need to assist government in its effort to drive investment in the broadcast sector, Mukoma says. However, he won’t name the people behind the project until after Icasa awards the necessary licence.
He says Icasa will set a precedent when it decides for or against granting the licence because it has not received a request of this nature previously. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media
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