Friday, May 22, 2015

Footprint of the SABC's SABC News channel on MultiChoice's DStv extended into the rest of Africa beyond just South Africa from today.

MultiChoice is extending the footprint of the South African public broadcaster's 24-hour TV news channel, SABC News (DStv 404) on its DStv satellite pay-TV platform to the rest of the continent from today.

There's been no official announcement or statement from the SABC, but from today the SABC News channel will now be available to DStv subscribers in several other African countries beyond just South Africa.

The extended footprint for SABC News comes almost two years after the channel finally launched on DStv in August 2013.

SABC News replaced the SABC's first struggling attempt at a 24-hour news channel named SABC News International.

SABC News International was unceremoniously shut down after bleeding millions of rand after just three years in operation at the end of March 2010.

The SABC News channel is part of a highly controversial deal worth millions of rand that the public broadcaster's famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng signed with MultiChoice.

As part of the deal, SABC News, produced with public broadcaster resources as a public broadcasting TV channel, is exclusively available to DStv only, keeping it off On Digital Media (ODM) and China's StarTimes Media SA's StarSat, as well as Sabido and Platco Digital's OpenView HD satellite TV platforms.

In March the SABC planned to remove all of the half hour bulletins in all of the other official South African languages besides English on the SABC News channel from April, due to the coming extended reach of the channel further into Africa, but then ended up not going through with the change.

"Because the channel [SABC News] is aired in other countries, it only makes sense to keep the channel entirely English," the SABC said at the time.

Asked about the extended footprint further into Africa, MultiChoice confirmed to TV with Thinus that SABC News is becoming available in more African nations on DStv besides just South Africa.

"The SABC News channel is being added to DStv across the Africa continent on 22 May as part of our celebration of Africa Month. We believe this channel will be particularly relevant to the hundreds of thousands of expatriate South Africans who live in other parts of the continent," says MultiChoice.

"Together with approximately 2.4 million DStv customers outside of South Africa, they will now have access to 24-hour South African news, information and opinion," says the satellite pay-TV operator.

In March an SABC insider told TV with Thinus that the SABC News channel is planning and working on "a new daily bulletin with Africa news to compete with the international TV news channels", although that has not yet started.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago failed to respond to a media enquiry made Thursday about the continental expansion of SABC News across Africa and what it means for the programming and scheduling currently on the channel.

SABC News will become available as a TV channel to all South Africans as part of the SABC's digital bouquet of five TV channels - including SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and SABC Encore (DStv 156) currently on DStv - once the South African government's long-delayed switch-on happens of digital terrestrial television (DTT) as part of the country's digital migration process away from analogue broadcasting.