Viewers still in the dark about pay-TV

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) awarded 20-year pay-television licences to On Digital Media (ODM), Telkom Media, religious channel Walking on Water (WOWtv), E-Sat (owners of and Multichoice Africa in September last year.

But to date, no licences have been issued to any operator.

E-Sat has, however, decided to supply channels to Multichoice, instead of operating a new pay- television service.

Last week Telkom announced it would be reducing its 66%stake in Telkom Media but it still wasn’t clear how this would impact on the new pay service.

Contacted this week, Telkom Media spokesperson Chris van Zyl didn’t want to comment . “We will be making a statement in due course,” he said.

Roz Thomas , media liaison officer for ODM, said although they were uncertain about when the licences would be issued, they were continuing with preparations for the launch.

“We were led to believe that everything will be finalised by the end of January. But behind the scenes we are carrying on with our planning,” she said.

But mum’s the word about exactly what consumers can expect. “We are keeping some things secret until the launch.”

ODM director Vino Govender, earlier said they would invest R1.2 billion and predicted that about 1.8 million people who did not subscribe to DStv, would be able to sign up.

Icasa spokesperson Sekgoela Sekgoela said they were “almost in the final stages” of issuing licences. He said the process was delayed by the licence conversion process. Licences issued under the old Telecommunications and Broadcast Acts, have to be converted under the new Electronic Communications Act.

Icasa had to finalise specific terms and conditions for each of the operators. “We are also currently awaiting documentation from some of the four operators. Once we have that, we can finalise the terms and conditions,” he said. Sekgoela said he was unable to say when exactly the licences would be issued.

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Viewers still in the dark about pay-TV