South Africa: Multichoice, SABC in Talks

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Multichoice confirmed last week that it was in negotiations with the SABC "on alternative channel and content agreements". The channel referred to could only be SABC News International, the public broadcaster's attempt to launch a 24-hour news channel.

This is despite the announcement on Monday that MultiChoice's DStv platform will no longer carry SABC Africa after the end of the month. It seems that despite the fallout, MultiChoice may still be interested in SABC News International.

The channel is broadcast on Sentech's Vivid platform, which is available to few subscribers, and is also available in certain African countries, as well as the USA. The SABC has been supplying African countries with SABC News International feed for free and is understood to be relying on advertising, rather than subscriptions, to fund the costs.

The platform's discontinuation of SABC Africa comes as a blow to the SABC, as the channel will be taken off air completely, said SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago. There is a possibility that it will be reintroduced after the switchover to digital terrestrial TV (DTT) in November. However, uncertainty surrounds DTT, as the communications department has still not released its digitalisation policy.

Business Day (Johannesburg) 16 July 2008