Saturday, April 27, 2019

Port Elizabeth's Bay TV community station officially unveils its upgraded studio and control room facilities with the help of MultiChoice.

Port Elizabeth's Bay TV (DStv 260) officially unveiled its upgraded green-screen studio and adjacent control room facilities that are part of a R2 million upgrade investment in the community TV station by the MultiChoice Group.

The studio, servers, cameras and control room investment will help Bay TV as a community TV channel to improve its production values and on-air playout quality with the station that serves viewers in the Nelson Mandela Bay area in the Eastern Cape but can be watched nationally in South Africa on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service as well.

The upgraded Bay TV facilities include digital mobile news-gathering DMNG Pro 180 – RA (3G/4G) with a downlink server and uplink; 8 professional studio cameras; as well as a digital screen panel for alternate backdrops.

In 2014, MultiChoice donated a state-of-the-art final control centre (FCC) to Bay TV and in 2018 MultiChoice installed a studio and control room, making it possible for Bay TV to produce their own talk shows, news and other local content.

Bay TV now broadcasts for 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

On Thursday evening Bay TV and MultiChoice held an official inauguration and handover ceremony under a big white marquee tent in front of the Bay TV offices in Port Elizabeth to celebrate the station's technical infrastructure revamp.

"The biggest asset we have is the ability for skills development in television and we are able to use a platform such as this to develop our people to tell our own stories - because without talent you are not going to be able to do that," said Motse Mfuleni, Bay TV chairperson, who spoke at the event.

Motse Mfuleni said ongoing investment into Bay TV as well as other community TV stations across South Africa is important to help independent community television channels in the country to find and grow local talent in their own communities.

"We have seen talent that we have developed and grown, feed the broader media community - whether it be at technical level, camera crews, engineers and presenters. Our passion is about creating a platform for out talent to profile their work without having to go through what can be arduous and restrictive commissioning processes."

Bay TV is one of 6 South African community TV stations that MultiChoice is supporting, providing equipment, training opportunities, as well as content. The other channels are Tshwane TV, Gau TV, 1KZN TV, Soweto TV and Cape Town TV (CTV).

In 2018 CTV in a submission to South Africa's broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), revealed the massive extent to which community TV stations in South Africa are dependent for their financial survival on the money and support they are receiving from MultiChoice without which they would essentially shut down.

"Carriage on national pay-TV platforms is essential to the survival of the community TV channels in the current broadcasting environment," CTV told the broadcasting regulator last year.

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice's group executive for corporate affairs in a statement about the Bay TV investment and upgrades, says "For us it's about broadening access to African story-telling and creating platforms for local content creators to tell their stories, and in so doing, creating a talent pipeline that can feed all of South African and indeed take our stories to the world".

Joe Heshu says "Through our investments in infrastructure, technology and empowerment initiatives, we are proud to empower an entertainment supply chain which in turn supports local business and communities. In turn, and for stations like Bay TV, this means more local content for local communities".

"We continue to play a significant role in communities touched by our business operations by adding economic value, creating enterprise and employment opportunities, providing training opportunities and technical support, which ultimately grows and empowers the video entertainment sector."

Beyond the physical infrastructure and technical equipment upgrades at community TV stations, MultiChoice also has an ongoing partnership with community TV stations for the provision of content – specifically for the MultiChoice Diski and SuperSport Rugby Challenge events.

The Diski Challenge, done in partnership with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) gives young people opportunities to gain and improve broadcasting skills through the production of football content.

The various community TV channels receive full content distribution rights from MultiChoice for all content generated for the Diski and Rugby challenge, including all live matches, non-live match and all highlights packages. 

In addition, the community TV channels also have the right to generate their own content from related events on and off the field.

"Sharing these broadcast rights not only ensures the community channels become involved in the delivery of high-quality, live sports content to their audiences but also positions the channels to gain stronger market presence, which will improve their ability to commercialise the content over time," says Joe Heshu.

"We also provide technical support and equipment to the channels to ensure that they can receive and make use of the content rights so that they can improve the quality of their overall broadcast delivery."