Final curtain falls on pay-TV hearings

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

As a throng of eager onlookers spilled out of the back entrance of the main Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) boardroom, telecommunications juggernaut Telkom made the final application for subscription cable and satellite television - to the frustration of smaller applicants.

"We are a new entrant into the market and are making no assumptions. The vision is to be Africa's provider of choice," said Telkom Media chairman Connie Molusi.

Analysts predicted that the behemoth, which has already earmarked about R7 billion for the venture, would be the most likely to secure a licence, though the number of licences has not been limited.

"In the foundation period of developing a strong media industry, the big players are necessary and, once the industry is healthy, the ownership can evolve towards more independent ownership," said Renaissance Fund Manager executive Khulekani Dlamini.

E-Sat's charismatic legal expert Dan Rosengarten fought until the bitter end, and was persistent in his appeals to Icasa to avoid over-licensing and anti-competitive licensing, especially that of government-affiliated applicants.

But Telkom Media simply brushed away any claims of anti-competitive behaviour by pointing to the corporate status of the new entity, Telkom Media, which is 66percent owned by Telkom SA.

Telkom Media chief executive Mnadla Ngcobo, the former legal services executive, said: "We hope to remove this conspiracy theory of dominance. If you look closely at the shareholding you will find that Telkom Media is a completely separate entity from Telkom SA."