Icasa licenses new pay-TV operators - TechCentral

Icasa licenses new pay-TV operators


As South Africa inches slowly towards migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial television, communications regulator Icasa has provisionally granted licences to five new pay-TV operators following an exhaustive hearings process that took place in 2013.

The companies and consortia that have bid for the licences will receive the licences on a permanent basis once they have met certain conditions set down by Icasa.

The companies provisionally granted licences are Close-T Broadcast Network Holdings, Siyaya, Kagiso TV, Mindset Media Enterprises and Mobile TV, TechCentral has established.

Icasa did not respond to a query regarding the new licences, but according to a source with direct knowledge of the process, Icasa has attached numerous conditions that the new licensees must fulfil.

Close-T, which intends broadcasting as CloseTV, must still demonstrate to Icasa that it has the necessary funding by submitting proof of this in the form of guarantees. It must also submit research, which includes the outcome of a focus group from each of the provinces it intends serving.

The prospective broadcaster, which intends targeting South Africa’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities, must also submit plans for a set-top box and how it will be funded and distributed. It must also resubmit its programming plans, showing local programming.

The second entity to be licensed provisionally is Kagiso TV, part of Kagiso Media, the company that owns a number of radio, television and online assets, including radio stations Jacaranda and East Coast Radio. The company intends offering a pay-TV platform that includes a high degree of local content to lower- and middle-income households as part of a bouquet that will cost consumers less than R240/month.

Icasa has directed Kagiso TV to submit proof of funding and proof that confirms Kagiso Media is 30% empowered. The company must submit a list of shareholders, showing the equity they hold. Finally, Kagiso must submit technical details about its set-top box, its manufacturing capabilities, and how it intends funding and distributing the box.

Mindset Media Enterprises, meanwhile, must also submit proof of funding, along with proof that confirms that Mindset is 30% black empowered. Again, details about the funding and distribution of its set-top box are also needed.

The company, which produces educational material, must also submit its business plan as Icasa is concerned that its model of charging subscribers R1/month may not be sustainable.

Mindset Media Enterprises is the commercial arm of the not-for-profit Mindset Network. It was established in 2003 to support education and health in South Africa and supplies channels to MultiChoice (through DStv), Sentech (Vivid) and On Digital Media (StarSat).

Mobile TV, too, must submit proof of funding. In addition, it must submit research it conducted, including the results from focus groups from each of the provinces in which it intends offering its services.

The company must also submit a business plan as its model of making money from advertising and sponsorship is against Icasa’s pay-TV licensing rules. It must resubmit its programming plans, including contracts with content suppliers.

Mobile TV wants to introduce TV services in South Africa using Korea’s digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) technology as well as digital radio using the DAB and DAB+ standards.

Mobile TV’s proposed offering, which includes two video channels, one visual radio channel — a radio broadcast with multimedia elements — as well as four DAB radio services and a range of interactive services, will require a nominal activation fee and an annual subscription. It intends offering sports, entertainment and news content, with a particular focus on short-format programming.

The fifth licensee is Siyaya, a 100% black-owned media consortium whose major shareholder is the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe in the North West province. Siyaya intends offering South African and Africa content, along with football, for a monthly subscription fee starting at R70/month.

Siyaya is managed by My Television, which has been running a digital TV trial in North West. It intends targeting black South Africans with an average age of 30 and a monthly household income of between R4 000 and R10 000.

Icasa has directed Siyaya to submit more research from other provinces, not only Gauteng, as its intended service is national in scope.  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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