The free-to-air television channel e.tv has expressed unhappiness about receiving only one additional channel in the proposed new channel allocation on the digital platform, which was announced by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) last week.
The draft regulations for broadcasting digital migration proposes an allocation of eight new channels to broadcasters.

The public broadcaster, the SABC, would be allocated four new channels — three would be for new regional channels and one would be an addition to SABC3, which is classified as a commercial station. One channel would be for community broadcasting, and SABC1 and SABC2 would not be allocated any additional channels.

Robert Nkuna, Icasa’s councillor, said the authority proposed one channel for each commercial station, hence e.tv was allocated one, M-Net two — because it has two channels — and SABC3 one.

He added that the regulator would engage with the industry on the proposed allocation of channels.

But e.tv’s spokesperson, Vasili Vass, said the company was “not happy” with the draft regulations and the manner in which the channels had been allocated.

The free-to-air channel, owned by JSE-listed Hosken Consolidated Investments, would not comment further until it makes its written submission to lcasa.

“e.tv has every confidence in Icasa’s consultative process around the draft regulations and will work with the body to find the correct solution,” he said.

The allocations are in preparation for the introduction of digital broadcasting. The move to the digital platform will start in November and the analogue system is expected to be switched off in November 2011.

However, the production industry has expressed mixed feelings about the new channels. They say that there should be commitment from the broadcasters to invest more money in local production — including documentaries, corporate videos and dramas — which is estimated to be worth about R3 billion.

lndra Lanerolle, the spokesperson for the Independent Producers Association, said: “Producers are ready to increase their output to meet new demand from new digital channels. But in spite of the looming deadlines, we are yet to hear from the broadcasters and especially the SABC, what their intentions for the new channels are.”.

Source: Business Report – Thabiso Mochiko