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TELKOM SEEKS LICENCE TO BROADCAST PAY-TV

Listed telecommunications operator Telkom last week said it could be an applicant for a South African broadcast licence.The fixed-line operator's move to broadcasting could diversify its revenue streams as the dual-listed group braces itself for competition from the country's second network operator, set to start in the middle of the year.

On Tuesday, the Independent Communications Authority of SA invited potential rivals to pay-television monopoly Multichoice to apply for licences. A firm rumoured to be interested in launching its own pay-television service is broadband communications company Sentech.

Telkom spokeswoman Lulu Letlape said that to remain competitive the company was looking at a range of converged products.

"Telkom is looking at a full range of converged products, which could require the company to purchase a broadcast licence."In a recent Financial Mail article, Telkom CEO Papi Molotsane was quoted as saying that offering a "triple-play" bundle of voice telephony, broadband internet access and television was key to the group's plans to broaden its sources of income.

According to Renaissance Asset Management executive director Khulekani Dlamini, Telkom had already begun pilot tests to gauge the technical and commercial feasibility of delivering television to consumers over its broadband digital lines.The deadline for applications is the end of July. The regulator has placed no limit on the number of licences it will give out.

In setting up a broadcast operation, Dlamini said, the capital expenditure commitments Telkom would have to undertake would not be excessive. "It would be marginal capex for them as they would not have to go out and build an entire network."However, Dlamini said he was not sure how popular Telkom's access devices, which would be needed to translate data for television, would be with viewers.Icasa hopes to have issued licences to pay-television operations by the middle of next year.

Business Day

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