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Botswana and Namibia: GTV Holds Hope for Soccer Fans wanting English Premier League football

English Premier League football fans may soon be smiling again after confirmation that the Namibian Communications Commission officially gazetted GTV's television broadcasting licence on Monday.

The formal applicant for the broadcasting licence is Gateway Broadcasting Service Namibia, a subsidiary of UK-based Gateway Telecommunications. The announcement in early August that MultiChoice would no longer broadcast a complete package of English Premier League matches on its DStv satellite service caused a furore among subscribers.

MultiChoice General Manager, Kobus Bezuidenhout, confirmed their SuperSport channel would only broadcast 20 percent of English Premier League football matches. There were even threats of an organised boycott on paying DStv subscription fees by irate soccer fans when the news emerged. To maximise income, the English Premier League structured its television rights for the African continent into three packages consisting of 80, 20 and 10 percent of matches respectively. Gateway Broadcast Services, a subsidiary of Gateway Telecommunications, launched a new pan-African pay-TV service, GTV, in June, which won the rights to 80 percent of the Premier League matches in Africa.

Meanwhile state Btv in Botswana has been given the 10 percent chunk of the much-sought-after English Premier League games. Under the arrangement, viewers of the free-to-air channel are assured of a least one live Premiership match a week. The development means that Botswana now has three channels showing live Premier League matches - Btv and the pay service duo of GTV and Multichoice. Already Btv aired its first live Premier League match - Derby against Newcastle - in the new dispensation on Monday. The next attraction is this weekend's clash of giants between champions Manchester United and Chelsea. Besides the live matches, Btv is allowed to air a preview of the games. Btv has entered the English Premiership fray courtesy of a new arrangement where a national free-to-air broadcaster is allowed one game every week for free.

(Sources: New Era (Windhoek) and Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

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