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AMG shutters cash-strapped TV Africa

World brief

JOHANNESBURG — In a blow to Africa’s broadcasting industry, the Africa Media Group pulled the plug on terrestrial broadcaster TV Africa at the beginning of the month.

An AMG spokesman said TV Africa, which has been on the air since mid-2001, had continually lost money. It owed payments to satellite transponder service providers and other suppliers.

TV Africa broadcasts to 23 countries outside South Africa from its Johannesburg-based studio, expanding to 40 countries for special events like World Cup soccer.

It “sold” content to broadcasters, transmitted via satellite, in exchange for airtime in which it covered its costs by selling regional and local advertising. However, some affiliates blocked the adverts and replaced them with adverts they had sold to their own clients, making it impossible for TV Africa to bill its clients.

Despite the problems, its system was seen as an innovative way to expand the industry in cash-strapped and infra-structure-hallenged Africa and its demise is likely to make other investors shy away from the market.

AMG said it regretted the decision but “the African broadcast industry is a difficult one to operate in.”

AMG’s three shareholders are ZM Africa Investment Fund, AIG Africa Infrastructure Fund and the Intl. Finance Corp., the private sector arm of the World Bank.

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