Super 5 Media has just over a month left to release a product to market, before the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) may begin looking at revoking its licence.
Super 5 Media was once regarded as the strongest potential competitor to incumbent MultiChoice and its DStv service. However, a TechCentral investigation has revealed the business has all but collapsed.
The company, once known as Telkom Media, has no CEO. And it’s sent its employees — those that haven’t been retrenched — home on unpaid leave.
Earlier this year, Super 5 Media requested an amendment to its licence conditions. It was previously required to begin broadcasting at the start of the year, but missed that deadline.
Super 5 Media was not ready and so Icasa decided to grant it an extension. This extension expires at the end of August. But with just over a month to go, and an exodus of staff, it seems unlikely that Super 5 Media will have something to offer consumers by then.
Icasa says if any broadcaster, including Super 5 Media, does not comply with the licence conditions it will be called to appear before its Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) for hearing and adjudication.
If the company is still not ready to launch a product, the CCC may make a recommendation to Icasa to withdraw the licence.
Icasa says it has not had any communication from the company about its troubles, and cannot simply intervene until it actually does not comply with the licence stipulations.
Telkom sank about R470m into Super 5 Media before selling it for next to nothing to Shenzhen Media SA.
Earlier this year, Super 5 Media director and shareholder Tian du Pisanie explained that the company planned to go live on 1 June, targeting 400 000 subscribers in its first 18 months of operation — 200 000 on satellite and 200 000 receiving television services over cable.
The company had grand plans to have cable services in hotels in time for the soccer World Cup. Du Pisanie said it had even secured a chunk of bandwidth on the Seacom undersea cable through a partner company, Information Bearing Signals, and would launch an Internet service provider business.
Du Pisanie has not responded to calls and e-mails from TechCentral for comment. — Candice Jones, TechCentral