Botswana: BTV to Pay Intelsat P130 Million

Investment

Botswana Television will pay satellite operator Intelsat nearly P134 million for the provision of transponder services over a six year period.

The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board's (PPADB) website lists its decision on tender number PR 17/1/418-2, in which the Department of Broadcasting Services sought "authority to renew contract for provision of satellite transponder services with INTELSAT for six (6) years at US 3,326 400 per annum inclusive of vat". That translates to about P 133 721 280 over the six-year period. The tender was awarded two weeks back.

In an earlier interview Broadcasting Services Director Mogomotsi Kaboeamodimo had asserted that details of a contract between Btv and the company providing satellite services to the station are privileged information "between ourselves and our service provider".

Mmegi sought to know the provider of the transponder services, and if Btv owed any money and the amount owed. The questions followed allegations that the station was likely to switch off for failure to pay for the transponder. However in his answer Kaboeamodimo said that the station had "just entered into a new 12 months contract with our satellite service provider," and that the department "shall be paying the agreed contractual service fees as per our agreed schedule of payments".

The payment should allow Btv to beam its signal through a transponder - an allocated space on the satellite. Intelsat is a leading satellite company and owns and operates a fleet of 51 satellites around the world. BC Partners, a private equity firm owns 76 percent of Intelsat.

Meanwhile sources within Btv say that the station is yet to rectify a long-standing archiving problem. The station is reported to have run out of D9 tapes, which are used for archiving purposes. This, reports say, has crippled program production at the station as the station grapples with the problem of saving both local and international programmes for re-broadcasts. Sources say that the station should not be having problems with archiving as it recently bought a new system that replaced the old one that the station had used since it started broadcasting in 2000. A South African company Ayanda Media Technologies (AMT), which specialises in broadcast and media technologies, was awarded the multi-million Pula tender to upgrade the facilities at Botswana Television (Btv) late 2007. The company says in its website that the contract "included the supply, installation and commissioning of a complete broadcast production workflow system" AMT would supply their integrated "Quantel Enterprise sQ news production system to service all of Btv's news and production needs [and] installation will position Btv as one of the most technologically advanced broadcasting facilities in Africa".

AMT says in its website that it is the same company that installed Btv's initial production system at the time the station started operations in 2000. When asked about the problem with archiving at the station Kaboeamodimo said that Mmegi should refrain from "unsafe speculation", adding "in any case these are not issues for discussion with newspapers".

MMegi/The Reporter 19 Feb 2010