Icasa licenses new pay-TV operators

The communications regulator has provisionally granted licences to five new pay-television operators. TechCentral provides exclusive details. By Duncan McLeod.


As South Africa inches slowly towards migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial television, communications regulator Icasa has provisionally granted licences to five new pay-TV operators following an exhaustive hearings process that took place in 2013.

The companies and consortia that have bid for the licences will receive the licences on a permanent basis once they have met certain conditions set down by Icasa.

The companies provisionally granted licences are Close-T Broadcast Network Holdings, Siyaya, Kagiso TV, Mindset Media Enterprises and Mobile TV, TechCentral has established.

Icasa did not respond to a query regarding the new licences, but according to a source with direct knowledge of the process, Icasa has attached numerous conditions that the new licensees must fulfil.

Close-T, which intends broadcasting as CloseTV, must still demonstrate to Icasa that it has the necessary funding by submitting proof of this in the form of guarantees. It must also submit research, which includes the outcome of a focus group from each of the provinces it intends serving.

The prospective broadcaster, which intends targeting South Africa’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities, must also submit plans for a set-top box and how it will be funded and distributed. It must also resubmit its programming plans, showing local programming.

The second entity to be licensed provisionally is Kagiso TV, part of Kagiso Media, the company that owns a number of radio, television and online assets, including radio stations Jacaranda and East Coast Radio. The company intends offering a pay-TV platform that includes a high degree of local content to lower- and middle-income households as part of a bouquet that will cost consumers less than R240/month.

Icasa has directed Kagiso TV to submit proof of funding and proof that confirms Kagiso Media is 30% empowered. The company must submit a list of shareholders, showing the equity they hold. Finally, Kagiso must submit technical details about its set-top box, its manufacturing capabilities, and how it intends funding and distributing the box.

Mindset Media Enterprises, meanwhile, must also submit proof of funding, along with proof that confirms that Mindset is 30% black empowered. Again, details about the funding and distribution of its set-top box are also needed.

The company, which produces educational material, must also submit its business plan as Icasa is concerned that its model of charging subscribers R1/month may not be sustainable.

Mindset Media Enterprises is the commercial arm of the not-for-profit Mindset Network. It was established in 2003 to support education and health in South Africa and supplies channels to MultiChoice (through DStv), Sentech (Vivid) and On Digital Media (StarSat).

Mobile TV, too, must submit proof of funding. In addition, it must submit research it conducted, including the results from focus groups from each of the provinces in which it intends offering its services.

The company must also submit a business plan as its model of making money from advertising and sponsorship is against Icasa’s pay-TV licensing rules. It must resubmit its programming plans, including contracts with content suppliers.

Mobile TV wants to introduce TV services in South Africa using Korea’s digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) technology as well as digital radio using the DAB and DAB+ standards.

Mobile TV’s proposed offering, which includes two video channels, one visual radio channel — a radio broadcast with multimedia elements — as well as four DAB radio services and a range of interactive services, will require a nominal activation fee and an annual subscription. It intends offering sports, entertainment and news content, with a particular focus on short-format programming.

The fifth licensee is Siyaya, a 100% black-owned media consortium whose major shareholder is the Bakgatla Ba Kgafela tribe in the North West province. Siyaya intends offering South African and Africa content, along with football, for a monthly subscription fee starting at R70/month.

Siyaya is managed by My Television, which has been running a digital TV trial in North West. It intends targeting black South Africans with an average age of 30 and a monthly household income of between R4 000 and R10 000.

Icasa has directed Siyaya to submit more research from other provinces, not only Gauteng, as its intended service is national in scope.  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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  • Greg Mahlknecht

    What’s with the STB manufacturing/distribution requirements for some of the guys? This muddies the water even more, unless Carrim hasn’t spoken to ICASA for a while, and they’re on different pages?

  • Lumina SS

    Lets see how Multichoice is going to clear the field with these new subscription players…lmao

  • http://www.InTheCube.co.za/ InTheCube.co.za

    Just thinking of all these new STB’s makes my head spin. It’s just sad that none of these guys intend rolling out IPTV, either by default, or as a supplementary service. My 5 year old ADSL router and a media player / Smart TV is all I need for IP TV, which allows multiple Pay TV subscriptions from multiple sources.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    DSTV still has all the content and knowledge in STB manufacture/distribution, except now they don’t have to subsidize a satellite dish for every household.

    You will notice that most these channels, unlike TopTV, have very little overlap with DSTV, so aren’t really serious competition. Nobody’s ready to take DSTV on yet. Competitors are very wise to find an untapped niche, entrench themselves there, and build up a bit of a base to start nibbling away at DSTV over the years.

  • Lumina SS

    I saw most of the players are focussing on the lower end of the market, like in the OVHD segment. STB pricing and installation is a sensitive player at that level. Either an existing DStv/TopTV dish coupled with a twin lnb will work the trick for lower income groups.

  • http://www.techcentral.co.za/ Duncan McLeod

    Most if not all of these providers will use DTT, not satellite

  • Lumina SS

    True Duncan, but you know Multichoice is sneaky and hate competition on any level from their Walka up until their Explora products. I guess only good marketing strategy and money will be playing factors for these new players.

  • Davebee

    Another example of the white tax paying community being air brushed from the scene!
    Is the white/Caucasian minority population of South Africa to be granted ANY form of TV service that will be of use to them and their own CULTURE by ICASA?
    Why is there this RACIAL persecution of our minority?
    If a white group of entrepreneurs got sufficient capital together to launch a pay TV service for their own population group would they be banned on some ANC inspired racial bias ruling by ICASA?
    Why is there Ethnic Cleansing by stealth taking place in the market place in the first instance? This ANC regime is practicing a sneaky form of APARTHEID by forcing the business sector to do their (the ANC’s) dirty work in the racial classification field. See: Radio Ads for firms who do YOUR firm’s racial classification as a BUSINESS via BEE vetting of the companies staff register.Scandalous!
    At least Verwoerd had the courage of his convictions and was up front with his state racial classifications operations.

  • Mafulo

    Davebee my friend you need some deliverance from your racial inclinations and obsessions. I am not a member of the ANC or any other political party but your hatred of the party is scary. I just dont understand your linking of every ICASA decision to ANC. And please do not argue whether ICASA is independent or not. And of course, I dont need to express a view on apartheid and all but a minimum of 30% shareholding for black empowerment should be seen as promoting the disadvantaged to be in the mainstream of the economy. We have long passed the racism and apartheid issues; and we are moving ahead despite the slavery and bondage blacks suffered more than 300 years. Let bygones be bygones. ICASA is licensing new players and all we need is watch whether it will benefit ALL South Africans or not AND simply embrace the new developments in the country and their contributions to the economy. Forget race my friend and focus on the real issues.

  • Davebee

    Firstly I object to your lecturing me on race Mafulo, this regime is SO obsessed with race that we now have a so-called minister of sport promoting the envisioned application of RACIAL QUOTAS on sports teams, I strongly urge you to send a mail to Fikile Mbalula and tell him to, as you so archly put it to me…”move on”
    Kindly advise as to where the ‘it will benefit ALL South Africans’ in your reply comes into play when a minority race group,… that would be me and my family are being effectively frozen out of business here in their homeland by the use of ECONOMIC GENOCIDE in the form of BEE, TRANSFORMATION, DEMOGRAPHICS, BLACK BUSINESSMEN FORUMS, AA, PREFERRED SUPPLIERS and all the other weasel race gymnastics that Zuma and his gangster pals in Luthuli House have and are dreaming up using OUR tax Rands to pay for it as well.
    Want me to stop being obsessed with the blatant injustices of minority RACIAL discrimination I see taking place daily? Simply get rid of ALL the minority oppression MY FRIEND.
    Now don’t ever call me about “Moving On” until that happy day arrives.

  • http://www.mavoni.co.za Tinyiko Valoyi

    Frozen out of business. i like that phrase. I also feel like that when trying to get business from SA corporates. I wonder why?

  • Vusumuzi Sibiya

    If I didn’t know any better about the independence of ICASA, I would have to speculate that they are on exactly the same page in a calculated ploy to garner more support for inclusion of CA; as all these “conditional” licensees are subscription services applicants who would obviously recognize the benefits of how inclusion of CA in government subsidized STBs would be of benefit to them.

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