Botswana: New Pan-African Satellite Tv Company Licensed

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The National Broadcasting Board (NBB) at the end of last year awarded a Satellite Subscription Television Service Licence to Munhumutape African Broadcasting Corporation (MABCTV). The licence was awarded at the Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) premises and will enable MABTV to establish studios to broadcast from Botswana and have satellite uplink facilities from Gaborone.

The service will specialise in tourism-related content while acquiring rights and aggregating other channels from other parts of the world linking up from Botswana. MABTV will broadcast from Gaborone to the rest of the country with a view to eventually covering other parts of Africa - starting in Southern Africa in the second year of their operation. It expects to commission its channels to other parts of the globe in due course.

Presenting the licence, NBB Chairman Masego Mpotokwane said it had taken a while for the application to be approved since receiving it towards the end of last year, adding that the delay was due to thorough checks to ensure the necessary requirements are met.

Said Mpotokwane: "The NBB Board has to ensure that this licence is in accordance with the law. MABC have indicated that they intend to invest substantially in their operation, which will be good for the economy of this country. For markets with small populations like Botswana, it is tempting to target it from outside without any real commitment to the development of the sector internally.

"It's encouraging when MABC chooses to broadcast to the world from Botswana". He said that one of the strategic objectives of the NBB is to create a favourable environment for the industry, adding that the Board is encouraged by the phenomenal growth in local content.

He said that although property rights issues are in the realm of private law, the Board urges broadcasters to ensure that artists get their dues so as to increase local content. "By investing services in Botswana, operators such as MABC will be better placed to harvest the cultural wealth of this country," Mpotokwane continued.

"They have put together a robust business proposal which the Board has every reason to believe they will see to fruition". He saluted Board members for their tireless efforts in ensuring the processing of the application.

Accepting the broadcasting licence, Chairman and CEO of MABCTV, Oscar Kubara said the African continent was overwhelmed with foreign broadcasters who did not adequately portray its varied cultures accurately.

He thanked the issuing authorities for awarding the company the licence, adding that the service will be on the market in the next six months. He said MABCTV is humbled by the confidence and trust extended to it by NBB, adding that the confidence comes loaded with responsibility and should be translated into reality. He noted that MABTV has been built around events surfacing in Africa and will strive to bring to the world the true cultural aspect of the continent, adding that this will foster tourism growth.

He pointed out that MABTV will strive to avail to viewers at least 15 channels in the beginning. Subscribers will pay P100 in subscription fees per month.

"We pledge to carry the African story which for long has remained unspoken. It is indeed an honour for MABCTV, the African people in general, and Batswana in particular, that a wholly-owned African television company has been granted a satellite-based broadcasting licence in Botswana, and will transmit from Gaborone to the rest of the sub-continent."

(Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone), 19 December 2007)