Multichoice Africa’s Eben Greyling on IP-TV and Mobile Phones

Technology & Convergence

Eben Greyling, the CEO of Multichoice Africa, spoke to Daily Monitor on the sidelines of the recent CNN/Multichoice African Journalist Awards 2009 in Durban, South Africa. Key points included:

Q: Why are these awards important?

We see them as an opportunity to give back and to recognise journalists across Africa. We at Multichoice see a unique opportunity in telling Africa's story. There are more regional news channels such as K24 in Kenya and we see ourselves as playing a carrier role for these channels on our bouquets.

Q: How do you explain the growth in African television content and production?

There has been more production as a result of Africa's development. The Africa Magic channel has been very successful for us and has led to the creation of the Africa Magic Plus channel. We are excited about more African content being available.

Q: What has been the impact of the global economic crisis on your operations and your business model?

We have seen some effect in terms of volatility in the exchange rates with the dollar getting stronger in many markets and therefore making the service cost a bit more. We used to have this volatility many years ago but had achieved some stability over the last four years.

There has also been some impact on tourism and mining sectors but we are seeing more and more people turn to television as a substitute for going out so we have not been adversely affected.

Q: Is there space for another African pay TV provider after the collapse of GTV?

The impact of GTV's entry was to raise the cost of content because they were bidding against us. I cannot say whether or not there will be other providers emerging.

Q: How much of an opportunity is the 2010 World Cup?

The World Cup is a fantastic opportunity for us and for the continent. We are launching a new satellite in the fourth quarter of this year and shall also broadcast the World Cup in HD [High Definition] across Africa.

Q: What is the future of pay TV in Africa?

Pay TV in Africa still has very low penetration in Africa. Technological changes mean that the traditional model will change completely over the next 10 years with things like ipTV [Internet Protocol TV where TV services are delivered over the Internet] and mobile TV [delivered on mobile telephone handsets]. It is going to be an exciting period.
The Monitor