Telkom ready to launch pay-TV

Technology & Convergence

Telkom Media is ready to roll out pay-TV by 2008 if it acquires a cable and satellite broadcasting licence from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa). It is one of 18 bidders for satellite and cable TV licences. The new company, 67% owned by Telkom with media partners Videovision, Women’s Development Bank and MSG Africa Media holding the balance of shareholding, has revealed its 10-year strategy plan for pay-TV which will have the backing of R7.5bn.

Telkom Media’s chief strategy and operations officer, Rikus Matthyser, said at a media demonstration on Friday 20 April that a satellite “family bouquet” will be available to middle-income earners at under R100 a month.

Telkom Media also intend to launch Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), a more sophisticated product offering an Internet bundle of different service choices, over a broadband DSL line. This service would carry a higher monthly subscription rate of about R320 excluding the DSL line rental from Telkom. It would offer videos online which could be rented or bought as well as online shopping. Subscribers would be billed at the end of the month. Viewers will be able to watch two pictures at the same time - a television programme and a pop-up advertisement for say pizzas that can be ordered right away. This aspect was presented by Adrian Smith, technical head of the pilot process, as a new advertising opportunity. He said advertisers could present advertising specifically around what the audience was watching.

Matthuyser said that while about 75% of SA households had TV sets, only 11% of these had pay-TV which presented a huge potential for pay-TV broadcasters.

The good news for SA production is that Telkom Media committed to sourcing significant content locally. Local content that will be included in the Telkom Media bouquet include sport, movies, soaps, drama, reality and adult programmes.

Telkom Media would be able to begin broadcasting within nine to 12 months after it was granted a licence, Matthyser said.

ScreenAfrica.com, April 26, 2007