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South African cable competition drops

E.sat to explore 'alternative opportunities'

JOHANNESBERG — Monopoly satcaster MultiChoice will not have as much competition in South Africa’s newly opened pay TV market as was anticipated when four new license holders were announced in September.

One of the four, e.sat, part of Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), which also owns free-to-air channel e.tv, has announced that it will supply channels rather than bow its own platform.

E.tv CEO Marcel Golding said e.sat had always argued that the market could only sustain two pay TV operators. When four licenses were issued, e.sat decided to “explore alternative opportunities as a content aggregator and channel supplier.”

Golding said e.sat would launch South Africa’s first independent 24-hour TV news service on MultiChoice’s DStv platform early next year.

“E.news is our strongest brand. When we decided to become a channel supplier instead of a platform operator, our biggest priority was to secure as wide a reach as possible for our 24-hour news channel,” he said.

E.sat will produce a number of channels for MultiChoice over the next few years, Golding said. Its sister company e.tv will focus on producing and distributing channels on the digital terrestrial television service due to roll out in November.

Longer term, e.tv and e.sat plan to distribute programming and channels worldwide with a focus on emerging markets in Africa and the Far East.

The other pay TV license holders are Telkom Media; Walking on Water, a niche Christian broadcaster; and On Digital Media, whose shareholders include the African subsidiary of European satellite operator SES.

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