Wannabe pay-TV operator Super 5 Media has requested yet another extension from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to launch services commercially.
However, it is not clear whether the authority will grant its request this time around.
Super 5 Media, formerly Telkom Media, was licensed, along with four other prospective operators to compete with incumbent pay-TV operator MultiChoice and its DStv service, about four years ago. Of the companies licensed, only On Digital Media has launched a product, TopTV.
The fact that Super 5 is requesting a further extension suggests the company is not yet ready to bring a product to market. Last year, it retrenched all its staff amid talk that it would be forced to file for liquidation.
Icasa spokesman Jubie Matlou says the embattled prospective broadcaster has applied for an extension to its launch date. The authority has responded to the request, but Matlou says that until Super 5 Media has had a chance to review Icasa’s response he can’t disclose the authority’s decision.
This is the third time Super 5 Media has applied for an extension from Icasa. Under its broadcasting licence obligations, it was supposed to have a service up and running by June last year. However, shareholder changes and other troubles kept it from launching any channels.
Its deadline was then extended to September last year and, later, until March this year. The company has faced several significant hurdles since it was licensed, not least of which was Telkom’s decision to divest of its stake.
Telkom’s 75% shareholding was acquired by Shenzen Media, a company in which businessman Briss Mathabathe’s Imbani Holdings owns 80%. The remaining 20% is in the hands of the Sino-African Development Group, a business owned and led by Chinese businessman Philip Xiao.
In July last year, TechCentral broke the news that Super 5 Media had retrenched all of its remaining employees — more than 40 people in total — and was facing the prospect of closure.
“Without a product, we couldn’t keep on a full complement of staff,” Muhammad Lockhat, a Super 5 Media director, told TechCentral at the time.
Company executives have since gone to ground, not returning TechCentral’s calls for comment. — Candice Jones, TechCentral