MultiChoice's DStv platform is contributing a substantial amount of money to the SABC's new news channel which will be starting at the beginning of September on DStv with 6 hours of new news coverage per day, looped for 24 hours.
ALSO READ: In March documents leaked according to which MultiChoice would be contributing a once-off R10 million to the news channel to help with start-up costs and pay a further R15 million annually to have the channel on the DStv platform.
The SABC's CEO Lulama Mokhobo said today at the public broadcaster's Auckland Park headquarters at a hastily arranged press conference, that MultiChoice had contributed a substantial amount of money which would be paid to the SABC every month over the nexy 5 years so that the SABC can launch its new 24 hour news channel.
This new news channel from the SABC will replace its failed SABC News International channel which cost the SABC millions and was canned in 2010.
The SABC tried to launch its new news channel on 1 April 2011, then moved it to October 2011, then to April 2012 and now wants to launch it at the beginning of September. It comes as the SABC plans to start the broadcast of its initial new TV channels of its digital terrestrial television (DTT) offeringat the end of September or early October.
Lulama Mokhobo said the SABC "is ready" to launch the new channel which will start with 6 hours of new news per day. This 6 hours will be looped in 4 blocks over the course of every day for a 24 hour cycle. The SABC quickly wants to grow to 24 hours of constantly updated news coverage similar to the eNews Channel (DStv 403) which can also be seen on DStv and which will soon be changing its name.
In a press statement the SABC said that its 24 hour news channel "is expected to be launched by the beginning of September 2012" on MultiChoice's DStv.
The SABC's new news channel which it has been testing by running 4 hour blocks of news coverage, will initially only be available on MultiChoice's DStv, will become available as a free digital terrestrial television channel as part of the SABC's bouquet of 18 TV channels to all viewers over time.
Lulama Mokhobo said the new SABC news TV channel would be multilingual and that the SABC wants to reach Africa. "We see it as a pan African channel which will bring much more regularly news from the rest of the continent that affect South Africa."
"We are hoping we will be able to spread to the rest of the continent and anywhere else where MultiChoice currently operates. We are ready. The team is busy transforming how it operates to fit in with a 24-hour service approach."
"We haven't worked out the quotas because it is important to gauge the appetite for the languages, but part of delivering to regional expectations will be to deliver news in other languages," said Lulama Mokhobo.
The SABC told parliament recently that the broadcaster plans to spend R288,9 million over the next three years on the 24 hour news channel which is to replace the failed SABC News International channel which was launched in July 2007 but ran for less than two and a half years before closing down in March 2010 despite an investment of millions of rands by the broadcaster.
The new 24 hour news channel will cost the SABC at least R80 million per year to operate. MultiChoice plans to make the new SABC news channel available in South Africa but also throughout Southern Africa, including Angola, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The SABC board member Cedric Gina said today that that the SABC is ready to spend big on the news channel and also hoping for advertising income in time from the TV channel. "A proposal is going to be submitted to the National Treasury to enable us to spend - we have made a provision for the channel, a full provision for the channel that will run over five years, but within that provision we're fairly comfortable that we should be able to get advertising revenues."