More details have emerged about plans by sister company Platco Digital to launch a free-to-air satellite offering called OpenView HD to South African consumers later this year.

Platco Digital, the company planning to launch a free-to-air satellite television service, has entered into partnerships with a range of companies, including satellite providers, set-top box distributors, major retailers and broadcasters as it gears up to launch the OpenView HD service in South Africa October.

OpenView HD will carry in the region of 15 licensed but free-to-air television channels locally and, ultimately, in the rest of Africa, says Platco Digital MD Maxwell Nonge.

“Platco has been established to provide solutions for multi-channel carriage and distribution of direct-to-home, digital terrestrial television and mobile TV in South Africa and in the rest of Africa,” the company says.

Viewers wishing to access the OpenView HD offering will need to purchase and install a satellite dish and set-top box from retail outlets. Other than the initial set-up costs — estimated at about R1 900 for installation and hardware — the offering of approximately 15 channels will be free of charge. A mix of standard- and high-definition channels will be offered.

“In any territory where it operates, Platco Digital will work with licensed broadcasters to provide viewers access to channels licensed to operate in those territories,” the company says.

“Platco’s South African direct-to-home platform, OpenView HD, will not be engaging in any licensable activities on its own behalf as it merely provides technical platform services to licensed free-to-air broadcasters on the basis of their existing licences.”

Platco is owned by Sabido Investments, the holding company of free-to-air broadcaster Sabido is controlled by JSE-listed Hosken Consolidated Investments.

Nonge says there are “vast opportunities to grow free television in Southern Africa and drive digital migration”.

“We believe satellite, digital terrestrial television, mobile TV and other digital platforms can play an important role. It is mainly consumers who will benefit as they will have additional choice.”

Source; (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media – Duncan McLeod