From October, South Africans look set to enjoy a satellite television service called OpenView HD, backed by parent Hosken Consolidated Investments, and offering as many as 20 channels free of charge, some of them in high definition.

South Africa is about to get a significant new offering in broadcast television with the impending launch of OpenView HD, a new service backed by parent Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI).

TechCentral has learnt that OpenView HD will offer between 12 and 20 high-definition and standard-definition channels, all free of charge. It looks set to be first significant new competitor to DStv operator MultiChoice since the launch of TopTV in 2010.

Unlike TopTV, the new offering has no subscription charges, although a once-off installation and hardware fee will apply.

Neither HCI CEO John Copelyn nor executive chairman Marcel Golding could be reached for comment on Monday, but a spokesman for Platco Digital, the vehicle that is being used to launch OpenView, has confirmed the plans to introduce the service commercially in October.

“Platco will provide carriage to licensed free TV broadcasters locally and the rest of Africa,” the spokesman says.

Platco is based in Johannesburg and has uplink facilities in Cape Town. The spokesman says the company wants to “acquire as many channels as possible to ensure sustainability and will offer both standard- and high-definition resolutions”.

HCI owns Sabido Investments, which in turn holds the controlling 67% stake in Platco. Sabido also holds HCI’s interest in Remgro, through its investment in Sabido, holds a 32% stake, with the remaining 1% to be held by staff.

Through Sabido, HCI also owns 63% of satellite company eSat and 63% of free-to-air broadcaster

JSE-listed Ellies Holdings, which has a business that specialises in satellite installations and hardware, is one of the companies that will be conducting installations at consumers’ premises when the service is launched. CEO Wayne Samson tells TechCentral that OpenView HD will be subscription free and will make its money solely from advertising. “It’s a different model to the one TopTV follows,” Samson says.

Samson says OpenView HD will use the same SES satellite as TopTV. Customers can expect to pay about R1 900 for installation and the necessary decoder, but is dependent on individual retailers and could vary slightly, he says.

Samson can’t say what channels OpenView HD will offer, but the “target market is lower to middle LSMs”.

Source: TechCentral – Craig Wilson