Sentech has taken the wraps off its new free-to-air broadcasting platform, Freevision, a competitor to the recently announced OpenView HD that will be to be launched by e.tv sister company Platco Digital in mid-October.
Freevision uses Intelsat’s IS-20 satellite — the same one MultiChoice uses for DStv — meaning DStv subscribers “probably don’t need to install a second satellite dish or change its positioning”. OpenView HD, on the other hand, uses the SES-5 satellite preferred by TopTV.
The cost of installing the service starts at R1 350, including the cost of a decoder. There is no other cost thereafter. The entry level decoder is a standard-definition box, though high-definition decoders will also be available.
The new platform, which is set to carry a significantly larger number of channels at launch than OpenView HD, will have a strong emphasis on religious programming as well as entertainment, community broadcasts and education. It will also carry the SABC’s free-to-air channels. At launch, it will have 38 free-to-air television channels and 18 audio channels.
The launch of Freevision comes just a week after the SABC slammed Platco Digital for saying it would carry its channels on OpenView HD. In a harshly worded statement, the SABC said it “categorically refutes a statement made by … OpenView HD where they claim that they will carry SABC television channels 1, 2 and 3 on their bouquet”.
Platco warned that any attempt by the SABC to prevent it from carrying the public broadcaster’s channels would be “unlawful”.
Sentech revealed in mid-August that it planned to reposition its direct-to-home satellite service, called Vivid, as Freevision. Vivid is the platform the state-owned broadcasting signal distributor has historically used to offer free-to-air programming to outlying areas where there are no terrestrial television signals.
CEO Setumo Mohapi said in August that the Freevision platform would reduce the cost of broadcasting signal distribution services and “make multichannel broadcasting signal distribution tariffs affordable”, encouraging new players of all sizes to join the broadcasting sector.
At Monday’s launch, Mohapi said every channel launched over South Africa’s digital terrestrial television system would automatically be carried on Freevision at no additional cost to broadcasters. He also said prospective pay-television operators could also use the platform and had already received commitments in this regard from CloseTV and Siyaya, both of which are seeking pay-TV licences from broadcasting regulator Icasa.
Freevision will offer the following channels:
— Free-to-air broadcasters: SABC 1, 2 and 3, SABC News, SABC digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels and e.tv DTT channels
— Community broadcasters: Alex TV, Tshwane TV, Cape TV, Bay TV, Soweto TV, 1 KZN
— Entertainment: Zulu TV, SA Channel
— News and current affairs: MyNews Channel, TVC News, France 24
— Education: Mindset Learn, Mindset Health
— Special interest: God Never Fails TV, RLW, Breakthru TV, New Generation TV, Abel Damina Ministries, the Synagogue Church – Emmanuel TV, Daystar, Starcross TV, Angel Television Africa, Kruiskyk, Tellilah, Spirit World, Redeemed Church of God, Ezekiel TV, Christ Embassy, CTV (TBN), World Restoration Services, Unity Broadcasting Network, Manifest Sons of God, Isambulo, Homebased TV.
In addition, Freevision will offer a number of radio stations, namely Phalaphala FM, 5FM, Lotus, Ukhozi, Metro, Motsweding FM, RSG, Umhlobo Wenene FM, Ligwalagwala FM, Good Hope FM, SAfm, Lesedi FM, Ikwekwezi FM, Thobela FM, Munghana Lonene FM and Radio 2000. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
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