Television in South Africa turns 40 years old on Tuesday.
The SABC TV service marks its 40th anniversary since the very first nationwide broadcast on 5 January 1976 when Dorianne Berry and Heinrich Marnitz welcomed viewers to the “opening night” of TV in the country.
The past four decades saw the SABC’s television offering going through various channel permutations, with the South African public broadcaster currently providing five TV channels in the form of SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and then two channels — SABC News and the archive rerun channel SABC Encore — produced exclusively for MultiChoice’s DStv satellite pay-TV platform.
The past four decades in South Africa also saw the launch of pay TV with broadcaster M-Net (which will be turning 30 years old in October), together with MultiChoice’s DStv and StarTimes Media South Africa’s StarSat as satellite pay-TV offerings.
Services like Platco Digital’s OpenView HD free-to-air satellite service in addition to a growing plethora of video-on-demand services like Naspers’s ShowMax, Times Media Group’s Vidi, MTN’s VU and PCCW Global’s ONTAPtv.com are enhancing consumer choice in South Africa’s growing videosphere.
Meanwhile the global streaming giant Netflix said that it will be launching in South Africa before the end of this year.
The milestone comes as the SABC that introduced television in South Africa continues to lurch from crisis to crisis four decades later.
The SABC isn’t celebrating the 40th anniversary since its first national TV broadcast was done from Auckland Park — complete with studio curtains and in colour — but the milestone is highly significant as the South Africa’s television industry is hovering on the verge of the biggest sea change since the introduction of television.
In 2016, the long-delayed commercial switch from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting will simply have to start in South Africa after the country missed the internationally agreed to deadline for the switch-off of analogue TV signals by June 2015. — Channel24