SA: WowTV prepares for launch

Broadcast

Pay-TV contender Walking on Water Television (WowTV) has finally received the funding it needs to get a multi-channel broadcasting service off the ground and will have a commercial product available “as soon as possible”. WowTV was one of four new companies to be granted a licence by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to compete in SA’s pay-TV market in 2007.

Other licensees were On Digital Media, which launched TopTV last year, Telkom Media (renamed Super 5 Media), which failed to introduce a product, and e-Sat, which opted instead to broadcast a 24-hour news channel on MultiChoice’s DStv.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) decided to hold on to WowTV’s licence until it had found the funding it needed to launch a multi-channel service. The authority has now handed over the licence and the broadcaster has until March 2012 to launch a product.

WowTV co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Luyanda Mangquku says the company is pleased to have bedded down the funding it needed to get off the ground. He says the company had initially planned to launch a single-channel service, but soon realised that to compete effectively with other incoming pay-TV players it would have to launch a bouquet of channels.

The company went back to the drawing board last year and has been looking for the funding it needs to expand its proposed offering. Mangquku will not say who is stumping up the cash. “With the funding we have, we are able to launch our services, but we are continuing our engagement with various investment houses in order to expand our offering in line with our roll-out plans,” says Mangquku.

He says WowTV is putting all its efforts into bringing as service to market as soon as possible, preferably well before the deadline set down by Icasa. “Our plans are to launch as soon as practicably possible. The market is ready for a pro-family entertainment alternative, we are inundated with calls from WowTV fans to launch, and we are putting a lot of pressure on all our processes to ensure that the launch happens early,” he says.

Critics have long labelled WowTV a niche player with a religious focus. But Mangquku says the company’s offerings will not be overtly religious, but rather “family friendly”. He says the content the company plans to broadcast will have no sex or violence and will have a strong focus on local programming and talent.

“WowTV is about rediscovering, repositioning and unleashing one’s purpose and full potential in line with the very purpose that God created humanity. This is practical day-to-day lifestyle reform that will shake today’s concepts, thinking and behaviours to their very foundations,” he says. Viewers can expect the company to launch services priced at between R49/month and R99/month, depending on the bouquet of channels selected.