South Africa: R1 billion investment needed for ODM pay-TV operations

Investment

A whopping R1 billion. That is the total funding requirement of On Digital Media (ODM), director Vino Govender told Bizcommunity.com, as one of South Africa's pay-TV new players makes final preparations to enter the tough but lucrative market monopolised by MultiChoice for more than a decade.

“We are still on track and we will deliver according to our plans. We made some minor changes to our model in certain areas; this, however, has had no significant impact on our overall strategy,” Govender said.

In August 2008, Govender told Bizcommunity.com that ODM will begin broadcasting in June - July 2009. Unfortunately, the company will no longer meet that deadline due to undisclosed reasons. This time, however, he said broadcasting operations will only be launched in the third quarter of 2009.

But some observers believe that the postponement might have something to do with the current hostile economic climate. But Govender would not be drawn into the debate of the current economic climate, let alone say whether these conditions are affecting ODM's operations in any way. “ODM supports the view that people should be spending their disposable income more efficiently during tough economic conditions.

“These conditions support the opportunity for pay-TV operations to start introducing more flexible packages into the market to ensure that there is no channel wastage in terms of the consumers monthly spend.”

ODM said consumers should be given the option to pay for exactly what they want to watch and not the usual one size fits-all package that is available in the market today.

The company received its broadcasting licence in July 2008, and said it will offer consumers an affordable service and real choice.

Christian network Walking on Water Television (WoWtv) and e.sat - e.tv's sister company - could not be reached for comment. e.sat COO Bronwyn Keene-Young and spokesperson Vasili Vass were still overseas and WoWtv co-founder Luyanda Mangquku did not return calls or emails by the time of going to press.

Telkom Media is still without a soul. Spokesperson Chris van Zyl declined to comment, except to say that a ‘major announcement' is on the cards.

In September 2007, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) awarded four pay-TV licences to new entrants, setting off a ‘deadly' competition and delivering a massive blow to MultiChoice's ‘dictatorial reign'.

While ODM and WoWtv are busy sharpening their knives to spar against giant DStv, e.sat signed a ‘peace agreement' with MultiChoice, preferring to sleep with the enemy and supply it with programmes.