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E.SAT MAKES NEWS DEAL WITH MULTICHOICE

E.sat’s planned 24 hour news channel will become part of the DStv bouquet, it announced on Tuesday, dropping out of the race to provide its own pay-TV platform to compete with MultiChoice.
E.sat, e.tv’s sister business, will become a content provider for pay-TV platform operators instead.

E.tv’s chief executive officer Marcel Golding said the South African market could only sustain two pay-TV operators while the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) had granted five such licences. E.sat, Telkom Media, MultiChoice, On Digital Media (ODM) and WOWtv successfully applied for commercial subscription broadcasting licences from Icasa.

E.sat’s planned news channel would become part of MultiChoice’s DStv bouquet by mid-2008, Golding said. E.sat will provide a “range” of channels to MultiChoice over the next few years. He was, however, not prepared to provide details of its channel strategy.

Telkom Media also plans to launch a 24 hour news channel in the next year.

According to Chris van Zyl, Telkom Media spokesperson, e.sat’s announcement does not influence Telkom Media’s plans.

“We will still provide our own channels on our own platform.”

He said Telkom Media believed it had the right people on board to successfully launch its 24 hour news channel by the end of June 2008. Jimi Matthews, a former head of e.tv news and SABC TV news, is in charge of news at Telkom Media.

The SABC launched a 24 hour news channel, SABC News International, on Sentech’s Vivid platform in June this year. The public broadcaster said at the time it wanted the new channel to become part of the DStv bouquet in the new year.

Golding said he was not sure what the licencing implications of e.sat’s announcement were. “It is for Icasa to decide.”

Zolisa Masiza, chair of Icasa’s subscription broadcasting committee, said he would be able to comment once e.sat had communicated its decision to Icasa.

Source: THE Mediaonline