Sentech Seeks Extra Government Funding for 2010 Broadcasts

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Cash-strapped state-owned broadcasting signal distributor and multimedia service provider Sentech is busy making preparations for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and hoping it will receive more funds from the state to install the necessary infrastructure.

Sentech will play a crucial role in providing satellite communications and broadband wireless coverage for the transmission of soccer matches and to ensure that SA meets its commitment to Fifa to provide high-speed links with a high availability between soccer stadiums, the international broadcasting centre and international gateways.

Another major task is to achieve the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting, a process that is due to commence from November next year and be finished three years later.

Sentech executives briefed Parliament's communications portfolio committee on Friday on progress made so far. They said they were putting forward their business plans to the treasury and the communications department to secure extra funding.

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said in his Budget speech last month he was setting aside R3bn as a contingency reserve to cover both unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure as well as extra allocations for several state-owned enterprises, which were yet to be finalised.

These included funds for Sentech's investment requirements, "contingent on the approval of business plans and resolution of outstanding regulatory requirements".

Sentech requested R1.3bn for the next financial year but only received R146m pending finalisation of its business plans. The amount requested included R700m for the expansion of its broadband network. Sentech expects to make a R41m after-tax loss this financial year and a R16.3m loss in the coming year.

Business Day