Monday, July 7, 2014

BREAKING. Ongoing confusion about SABC archives apparently sold to MultiChoice; SABC says its struggling to digitise SABC archives.

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The SABC is looking at exploiting the South African public broadcaster's archives but the SABC is lagging behind with digitising its archives.

There's also ongoing confusion about the public broadcaster's deal with MultiChoice in which the SABC apparently sold the rights to the SABC archive to the satellite pay-TV platform for a delayed SABC entertainment TV channel to start on DStv.

In return for access to the public broadcaster's archives, MultiChoice will pay the SABC hundreds of millions of rands - apparently just over R300 for the delayed SABC's entertainment TV channel that is still to launch on DStv but which the SABC said will now happen before the end of this year.

"The acting chief operating officer [Hlaudi Motsoeneng] is constantly looking for additional sponsors and partners to look at how we can utilise our programmes and the selling of our programmes in other forms," Tian Olivier, the acting CEO of the SABC told parliament's portfolio committee on communications on Friday.

In terms of digital terrestrial television (DTT) and the SABC archive Tian Olivier told the committee that "the challenge we have is to convert the SABC archive into a digital format so that we move from tapes to files and also train our staff from working in a tape environment to working in a file environment".

Member of parliament and of the telecommunications and postal services portfolio committee, Marian Shinn of the Democratic Alliance (DA) political party asked the SABC and said: "The SABC is looking for customers of the SABC's archives. Well, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, last year you gave away the SABC archives to MultiChoice".

"They have the rights to your archives - not part of it, all of it. The contract says 'the archive'. So what on earth have you got left to sell to anybody else?"

"Last year I asked who is going to pay for the digitisation of the SABC archive material so that MultiChoice could use it to launch their 24-hour SABC entertainment channel."

"The answer came back that the money - just over R300 million for the entertainment side of the MultiChoice SABC deal would be used to digitise the material. Is that being done? Why has the SABC entertainment TV channel not gone live? It should have gone live in November 2013 and there's no sign of it".

Hlaudi Motsoeneng said "everybody should have access to the SABC archives, including MultiChoice and other broadcasters because we have 'must carry' [analogue broadcasting regulations]. All of us, all citizen of South Africa they must know what is happening".

"Your and so on, they all use archive of SABC, you see," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng. "Even international broadcasters. I don't understand when you talk about SABC selling archives to MultiChoice because that is information that is available for the citizen of South Africa".