[Avhasei Mukoma] The story of TopTV's chronic failure to capture the South African pay television market has its origins in the failure by the broadcasting regulator, ICASA, to open the subscription television market to competition. ICASA has failed dismally to enable the introduction of new pay-TV players to compete with the incumbent, the dominant MultiChoice, operating under the brand name DStv, which was launched in 1995, a decade after its parent pay-TV channel, M-Net, was launched in 1986.
[Avhasei Mukoma] It was with deep sadness (for the protestors) and a great shock (for the viewer) to watch SABC TV news bulletins transmitting images capturing South African police brutality towards service delivery protestors in Ficksburg, Free State, wherein a protestor later died allegedly after being shot at by the police.
[Avhasei Mukoma] The proposed amendments to the Labour Relations Act are set to force broadcasting and media houses to re-look their business models and employment practices. Employers like the SABC are heavily reliant on freelancers, contract and short-term employees.
[Avhasei Mukoma] The battle for the soul of the SABC News will continue for as long as the public broadcaster remains the dominant news player in the country. In terms of the Electronic Communications Act, the SABC holds the only public broadcasting service licence duly issued by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
[Avhasei Mukoma] The decision by the SABC board members - to nullify the appointment by the board chairperson (Dr Ben Ngubane) and the group CEO (Solly Mokoetle) of Phil Molefe as the head of news - is a symbolic gesture to indicate the importance of the SABC in the setting of political agendas for the ruling party and the opposition parties by various news bulletins and current affairs programmes on the SABC's three TV channels and 18 radio platforms.
[Avhasei Mukoma] The move by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to introduce more commercial sound broadcasters in Gauteng, Durban and Cape Town must bring more competition and diversity of ownership in this lucrative commercial radio market. As a way of opening the commercial radio market, in 1996 the then Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) made a policy decision in terms of the Triple Enquiry Report to sell various regional SABC stations.
[Avhasei Mukoma] The arrival of a new pay-TV operator, TopTV, in May 2010, shall bring much-needed competition to the South African subscription TV market currently dominated by Multichoice through DStv. TopTV is targeting 5.5 million low and middle income subscribers. Programming content and subscription fee will be the main determining factors to inform the sustainability of the new broadcaster.
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