NBC launches free-to-air satellite TV news channel


US broadcast giant NBC and London-based Great Media have launched the MSNBC news channel as a free-to-air offering along with 35 other channels across Africa, relying on advertising to finance its operation.

The launch, which took place at the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg, will see consumers gaining access to 36 'exciting' channels - if they can afford buy a once-off package of a dish and a digital receiver at US$194.

Great Media chief technical director Malcolm Ramsay told Bizcommunity.com: "We don't have to know you because you won't pay us every month and we won't switch you off. All you have to do is to purchase your 88cm dish and a digital receiver at Space TV or Ellis and you are connected 'for life' to the whole world."

Ramsay added: "With the recent flood of Pay TV operators in the territory, South Africans will find digital TV landscape to be a confusing and complex place. Free2view's success is built upon the simplicity of our offering, combined with a fantastic channel line-up."

MSNBC Africa is a joint-venture between London-based Great Media Limited and MSNBC and is built on the worldwide resources of NBC News. The latter is owned by US giant General Electric.

The channels include a full schedule of live news of a world-class coverage and reporting, political analysis and award-winning documentary programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Ramsay said. "The expansion is integral to NBC News' commitment to growing its business internationally," Steve Capus, president of NBC News, commented. "The opportunities are limitless and as MSNBC continues to grow and thrive within the US, the timing is right for us to increase its global presence as well."

Currently MSNBC Africa is on what is probably Africa's most powerful and biggest KU band satellite footprint, Eutelsat WSA at 7degrees East. "This will ensure that viewers from SA, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Angola, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Congo, Gabon, DRC, Malawi and Uganda will be able to have the opportunity to view America's fastest news channel," Ramsay said.

Free2view, as the name implies, is southern Africa's only free-to-air satellite TV platform and aims to provide broadcasters and rights holders with a stable, advertising funded platform to deliver their content to the millions in the region who had been previously excluded from these content global streams.