Cape Town – OpenView HD, the new satellite TV upstart set to begin in October, has suddenly turned defiant, saying it will show the SABC’s three TV channels even though the SABC says OpenView HD doesn’t have the right to, is lying, and is abusing the SABC’s name to sell its service.
A day after Platco Digital, a sister company of e.tv and a division of Sabido Investments, told the press on Wednesday that the SABC’s three TV channels – SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 – will be included and form part of the 16 TV channels on OpenView HD, a new direct-to-home (DTH) satellite TV service, they are yet to answer specific media enquiries after the SABC says Platco doesn’t have the right to include and sell the SABC channels as part of its bouquet.
Platco Digital was asked, but isn’t answering yet whether it has a signed carriage agreement with the SABC to broadcast SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3. On Thursday the SABC accused Platco Digital of lying to the press and the public about having SABC channels on its bouquet.
A defiant Platco, in a terse and extremely vague statement, is saying for now they will “be carrying SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 from the launch date”.
‘Must carry’ regulations
The surprising fight between the yet-to launch OpenView HD and the SABC erupted on Thursday after Platco Digital’s managing director, Maxwell Nonge told the press that the satellite service costing R1 600 will launch on 15 October with 16 TV channels including the three SABC channels.
OpenView HD also plans to broadcast four new e.tv channels, eKasi+, eToonz+, eMovies+ and eAfrica+ which are the first of e.tv’s channels for when digital terrestrial television (DTT) launches in South Africa.
“The SABC as the public broadcaster has various obligations and any attempts by the SABC to prevent Platco from carrying the SABC channels would be unlawful,” said Platco Digital.
TV channels on Platco Digital’s OpenView HD have to pay Platco Digital in carriage deals. Platco Digital says TV channels then get a wider reach and audience and can charge more for advertising.
The Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (Icasa) told Channel24 that the so-called “must carry” regulations whereby a satellite TV platform such as OpenView HD would just get the SABC channels because it has to carry them as public channels, doesn’t apply.
According to Icasa, OpenView HD is a free satellite service and that the current “must carry” regulations for public TV channels under analogue broadcasting regulations only apply to pay-TV or subscription-based satellite television services the way in which the SABC channels are currently being included on MultiChoice’s DStv and On Digital Media’s TopTV.
‘The SABC has obligations’
Platco Digital did offer a discount rate to the SABC for the public broadcaster’s channels to be available on OpenView HD, but the SABC balked.
Platco Digital so far refuses to say whether Platco had a carriage agreement signed before it made the public announcement on Wednesday that the SABC channels will be on OpenView HD.
Platco says “the SABC has obligations” but isn’t explaining what that means. Platco says any attempt by the SABC to prevent Platco from carrying the SABC channels on OpenView HD would be unlawful, but has not responded to enquiries about what Platco means by that.
It’s also not clear why Platco wants to carry the SABC’s TV channels if the SABC is not in favour of doing any business with Platco and doesn’t want to be on OpenView HD.
Source: Channel 24 – Thinus Ferreira