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Competitors use broadcaster's arguments to try prevent it from competing for pay-TV licence

By unknown | Jun 06, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

The arguments that successfully used to get M-Net's open time closed were used against the free-to-air broadcaster's bid to enter the pay-TV market at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) hearings yesterday.

Black Earth Communications,'s ally in the Icasa hearings, turned into a foe yesterday. Black Earth Communications argued that since has the only private sector free-to-air licence available in South Africa, it should not be allowed to enter the pay-TV game. is pitching for a pay-TV licence disguised as an entity called E-Sat.

"There is a huge question here of unfair competition in revenue and marketing," said Black Earth Communications director Kubeshni Govender Jones.

She said the M-Net open time window, which only spanned two hours a day, was enough to have it removed from the bid, and the same should apply to

" earns revenue solely from open-air revenue, and in effect E-Sat will be the satellite arm of In light of the June 2005 ruling to remove M-Net's open time window, we feel that the there would be an unfair advantage to advertising for potential subscribers," Jones said.

E-Sat and channel director Bronwyn Keene-Young defended the bid saying: " can't be compared with M-Net. The two entities are two completely different companies with completely separate revenue streams. E-Sat will have to buy advertising on like anyone else, and possibly even compete for advertising."

During's proposal On Digital Media, which also made a presentation to the panel, brought the issue of staffing to the attention of the board. was forced to admit that the senior management team for E-Sat would still be overseeing operations at

"We will begin to be profitable in the fifth year of operations, and that's a very conservative estimate," said and E-Sat chief executive Marcel Golding.

"We have the experience and expertise to provide a quality service and increase competition in the multichannel environment," he said.


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