SABC Sport, currently a brand name of the SABC's sports coverage, will become its own stand-alone TV channel of the public broadcaster as one of the 15 new additional TV channels the SABC plans to launch in addition to the existing SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3.
In documents the SABC revealed that the broadcaster is planning to spend R732,7 million on setting up SABC Sport as a separate TV channel over the next two years.
Meanwhile the SABC and the department of sports has signed a multi million rand deal with America's National Basketball Association (NBA) to show NBA coverage on SABC1 and eventually SABC Sport. SABC1 will show two NBA games per week. This NBA coverage will rapidly expand beyond SABC1 with major NBA coverage on SABC Sport which will include the full NBA season in 2013.
The SABC and the South African Football Association (Safa) also hope to sign a deal next week believed to be R220 million, for the SABC to get broadcasting rights to all Bafana Bafana games played in South Africa over the next three years. This broadcasting deal will bring major stable local soccer coverage for the SABC; much of it which will be shown on SABC Sport with less disruption to the schedules of the SABC's existing channels.
"We are hoping to go live on October 1," said Sizwe Nzimande, the SABC's head of sports. We showed the soccer, cricket and rugby world cups, and now have the best of the best in the NBA. This is about catering for the sports channel so that when we do get it, we will have the right content to interest people," he said.
Some of the other TV channels in the 18 channel bouquet which will form a part of the SABC's digital terrestrial television (DTT) offering as the public broadcaster switches over from analogue broadcasting includes a new 24 hour news channel to replace SABC News International and SABC Entertainment. SABC Education and SABC Movies have also been tested as channels. The SABC is planning to spend R288,9 million over the next three years on the 24 hour news channel. The new 24 hour news channel will cost the SABC at least R80 million per year to operate.
So-called "plus two" and "plus twenty-four" (or "+2" and "+24") channels as they're known in the trade and operating in a similar way to TopTV's Top Movies +2 and Top Movies +24 TV channels might also be included, the SABC's technical division said last year. These "plus" channels would show SABC TV content exactly two hours later on one channel and 24 hours later on another, making perpetual time-shifted viewing possible for viewers who don't have a VCR or PVR.
No indication yet exists of how many additional new TV channels e.tv and M-Net will run. These two broadcasters will also be expanding with several more TV channels each as South Africa's TV industry moves from analogue to digital broadcasting - a process known as digital migration.
MultiChoice's DStv, On Digital Media's TopTV and M-Net as pay TV platforms currently all include and show SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and e.tv as part of so-called "must carry" rules under the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's (Icasa) broadcasting regulations for pay TV operators. They all have to include and show public TV channels on their bouquets but these "must carry" regulations however only pertains to analogue broadcasting.
Nothing compels MultiChoice, ODM and M-Net - and currently no regulations regarding "must carry" rules exist - to force pay TV operators to carry the coming growing number of public access TV channels on their bouquets.
For these pay TV operators the coming rapid public TV channel expansion - and to carry and include these new channels - will be extremely bandwidth intensive. Icasa told parliament that no "must carry" regulations for the coming digital TV environment for pay TV operators currently exists.
Without a "must carry" stipulation in the final digital regulations, it means that pay TV subscribers in South Africa might not automatically get the burgeoning number of new free TV channels on their specific pay TV system, if their operator has the option to opt out. Should pay TV operators not carry these additional free public television channels, pay TV subscribers who might want to see some of these channels, will be forced to buy an additional set top box (STB) which the government says will cost R700.