SABC to launch 6th TV channel

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The SABC is set to launch a 6th TV channel soon, after the public broadcaster’s chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng apparently secured R1.5bn for the SABC to start another new channel.

SABC chairperson Mbulaheni Obert Maguvhe surprised parliament with the news of a new, planned 6th SABC TV channel on Tuesday.

“Hlaudi and his team have secured R1.5bn with which we are going to establish a new TV channel. That will be the 6th channel,” said Maguvhe.

The new channel will join SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 as well as the SABC News (DStv 404) and the archive rerun channel SABC Encore (DStv 156).

SABC News and SABC Encore are supplied by the public broadcaster exclusively to MultiChoice’s DStv satellite pay-TV – despite “must-carry” regulations from the broadcasting regulator, Icasa, that all satellite and pay-TV platforms like ODM’s StarSat and Platco Digital’s OpenView HD should get and show all public access channels.

It’s not clear whether this new channel will also be carried by MultiChoice on DStv exclusively and Maguvhe didn’t reveal more details.

The channel could be SABC Entertainment – which was supposed to launch according to the contract with MultiChoice but which was eventually changed to SABC Encore – although it will most likely be SABC Sport as a 24-hour TV channel.

The creation of SABC Sport will bring an end to the schedule disruption of the SABC’s existing three terrestrial channels every time there’s soccer, cricket or rugby tournaments in cases where the SABC manages to secure the broadcasting rights.

“Some of the reason why we lose revenue is because there’s so many sports of national interest and projects of national interest we disrupt our schedule,” said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

“When you disrupt the schedule, which means you lose revenue, because you need to pay back the money you have already received from advertisers and sponsors – there are some penalties,” said Motsoeneng.

“It is important for us as the SABC to invest in compelling content. The second part is that we need to ensure that we broaden the number of platform that the SABC has in place,” the new SABC CEO Frans Matlala told parliament on Tuesday.

“We have the 24-hour SABC News (DStv 404) channel, we just launched the SABC Encore (DStv 156) entertainment channel. There will be a couple more TV channels that we are going to be launching in due course,” he said.

The new channel will presumably only launch after the long-delayed commercial start of digital terrestrial television (DTT) in South Africa.

In May this year Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC will launch with the existing 5 channels once DTT starts – far from the 18 TV channels the SABC told parliament it would have under DTT just four years ago.

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