Sentech takes a beating at Icasa hearings

Sentech was the latest victim of a barrage of corporate interrogation in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) boardroom this week.

What started out as a sedate hearing for broadcasting licence applications turned into a royal battle that reduced grown men to tears.

On Thursday saw signal transmission giant Sentech (in alliance with the SABC) receiving a spanking from smaller competitors including E-Sat, On Digital Media and Q Vision.

"As we have stated before, it would be highly anti-competitive to have any organisation that is in any way controlled by the government," said E-Sat legal representative Dan Rosengarten.

SABC chief executive officer Dali Mpofu said: "Although we will be a shareholder, the SABC will deal at arm’s length with Viewsat (Sentech’s satellite operator)."

Sentech was dealt a blow when opponents pressured Icasa to take a closer look at the relationship between Sentech and the SABC when they launched the failed satellite service, Astrasat.

"Unfortunately we are not in the position to discuss why Astrasat failed," said Sentech chief executive officer Sebiletso Mokane-Matabane.

Q Digital Cable Vision programming director Majota Kambule (better known as Phat Joe) broke down in tears on Tuesday after a grilling session from competing applicants.

Kambule bounced back to contest the Sentech application saying:

"It seems that the limitations on providing more than two licences do not apply in this case. I would urge Icasa to acquire information on why Astrasat failed."

"You have enjoyed several licences, including a multi- channel licence, but have done nothing with them," said Ndabentle telecommunication general manager Selwyn Matlaletsa to Sentech.

"Sentech has proven to be nothing but a comedy of technological errors," he added.


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Sentech takes a beating at Icasa hearings