Angola to liberalise its TV sector shortly

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The Angolan Government is poised to open its television sector to private FTA channels later this year. Currently, there are three TV companies, the state television broadcaster TPA (with its 2 channels) and two Pay TV companies, Visabeira-owned cable operator TV Cabo and satellite operator, DStv.

Three potential licences are being considered. The first up for consideration will be the potential privatisation of TPA’s Channel 2 although the broadcaster has said that privatisation in its view this is not an option. The other two licences will be granted to channels backed by a combination of local and Portuguese investors.

Word has it that one of these TV licences will be given in September 2008 to Emídio Rangel, a man with considerable experience in Portuguese-language broadcasting. He was the founder and first director of the Portuguese radio station TSF. After leaving in 1992, he then helped set up Portuguese TV channel Society of Independent Communication (SIC). In 2001, he went to the public broadcaster RTP.

However, the first new channel off the blocks will be TV Zomba in July 2008, which has the backing of two local financial groups with good political connections. It is believed to be planning terrestrial transmission coverage in Luanda and satellite coverage for the Angolan provincial cities of Cabinda, Lunda Norte, Uige, Malange, Kwanza Sul, Benguela, Bié, Huambo and Huíla. It may reach agreement with radio stations to co-locate signal transmission to reduce costs.

According to the shortly to be published African Broadcast and Film Markets, the key factors in the demographics of the major TV audiences are wealth and education. There is a gap in the FTA market because at the moment the better off and best educated are more likely to watch the satellite channels of TV Globo, TV Record, RTP and SIC than the state-run channels from TPA. If the new FTA TV channels are better financed and programmed then they will be able buy key rights of the kind currently only available on the Pay-TV channels and carve out a significant middle class audience for themselves: Luanda has a population of around 2.6 million, of which 700,000 might be considered middle class.