Kwese TV broadcasting licence bid big on sports, short on news

30 November 2018

Regulation & Policy

Pan African broadcaster Kwese TV, which hopes to enter the local free-to-air market, has told the Independent Broadcasting Authotrity (Icasa) its established presence in the media space will ensure it provides a quality service.

In its submission during public hearings by Icasa for an application for a free-to-air licence, Kwese’s Head of Regulatory Affairs, Zolile Ntukwana, said the company – currently broadcasting in 19 African countries – would leverage its existing business capabilities to drive the South African operations, including its strong funding capabilities.

Kwese plans to operate five channels, with a strong focus on sports content, which would consist of a 49% share of local sports. It said this rate would be reached during the second year of operation, if it were given a licence.

"What we are saying is that we would have sport content from launch, but the figure we are presenting would be reached in our second year," said Ntukwana.

Kwese said its services would make it the first free-to-air broadcaster in the country to offer a sports channel. According to research conducted by the company, sport is among the most watched content on the continent.

No current affairs

However, the company said it had no plan for news content, which is one of the key requirements for licence application.

Ntukwana stated that news was "expensive to produce" and attempted to seek exemption from the requirement, a request Icasa councillor Dimakatso Qocha said would not be considered.

"We are going back and will consider the requirement to include current affairs in our business plan," Ntukwana later stated.

As an established player in the African continent, Kwese submitted that it had "demonstrated value to international media entities such as Netflix, ESPN and IFlix, resulting in investment from these global content partners to expand their presence in South Africa".

Royal Bafokeng holds a 45% stake in the Kwese, Mosong Equities, which is a subsidiary of Mosong Capital, an entity founded by entrepreneur Moss Mashishi has a 35 % shareholding, while 20% is in the hands of Kwese Media Econet SA.

South Africa only commercial free-to-air broadcaster e.tv launched in 1998, and Icasa says more competition in the television broadcasting market is necessary.

In May, the channel warned Icasa that the free-to-air TV sector in the country was under threat and needed urgent protection from the increasing dominance of pay-TV.

The company is competing with Tshwaranang Media, Infinity Media Networks and Free to Air TV for the licence.

Icasa plans to complete the licensing process by the end of March 2019.

Source: Fin24