It’s all tears and fears as Icasa panel grills pay TV applicants

How the mighty have fallen. Once upon a time, there was an outspoken and not-so-funny TV and radio personality who went by the name of Phat Joe (real name Majota Kambule).

Kambule disappeared from the limelight about five years ago and this week resurfaced as the chief executive of Q Digital Cable, which has applied for a pay TV licence.

On Monday, the former SABC and e.tv presenter was reduced to tears when he failed to answer some questions on potential flaws in his application. The cause of his tears was none other than E-Sat’s legal counsel, Dan Rosengarten, and the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) panel chaired by councillor Zolisa Masiza.

Kambule could not control his emotions and Masiza had to adjourn the proceedings for a few minutes to give him time to compose himself.

It has been an interesting but tough two weeks for pay TV applicants.

Kambule was unable to control his emotions but there are other companies, such as Black Earth Communications (BEC), Ndabenhle, Goal Technology Solutions (GTS), MaxTV and Leagoma that got agitated when their applications were cut into pieces. BEC and GTS were unable to explain what their core businesses were. No wonder Multichannel pulled out.

But even the big guys such as E-Sat, e.tv’s sister company, and Sentech in partnership with the SABC were given a tough time by Icasa and failed to give convincing answers to support their applications.

This grilling of e.tv and Sentech put aside perceptions that Icasa was soft on big operators. As for the small players, it shows how important a pay TV offering is and should not be taken for granted like some of them did by submitting "incomplete" application forms.

Today, its MultiChoice’s turn and with the rate that the Icasa panel is going, it surely will not be easy for the pay TV monopoly. Telkom Media is scheduled to present on Tuesday and should better be prepared for Rosengarten, Masiza and his team as well as On Digital Media.

Like the others, MultiChoice will have a tough time. But business is tough and, as Rosengarten reminded Sentech and the other companies, "its nothing personal".

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It’s all tears and fears as Icasa panel grills pay TV applicants