18 free TV channels for SA

2011-09-13 12:28
Thinus Ferreira
Cape Town – Get ready for Multiview.

The SABC and e.tv have decided to call their free digital TV offering, that will include 18 TV channels, Multiview – a name that might end up creating a lot of confusion during South Africa's switch-over to digital television broadcasting that will start from April 2012.

South Africa's public broadcaster, the SABC, as well as the commercial broadcasters e.tv and M-Net, have to switch from current analogue broadcasting to digital DVB-T2 television broadcasts and digital terrestrial television (DTT) – a process known as digital migration.

As part of DTT, the SABC, e.tv and M-Net are all planning to increase the number of channels they currently broadcast once they're making use of a digital broadcasting platform. The SABC and e.tv have now registered Multiview as the brand name for their free-to-air bouquet. Multiview should not be confused with MultiChoice which is a pay TV service and is a subscription-based model.

The SABC plans to have 18 TV channels on Multiview. The SABC wants to run 18 digital television channels – including SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 – as well as all of the public broadcaster's radio services on the DTT multiplex.

It will include SABC Sport as a channel, health and education channels, as well as the new 24-hour news channel the SABC plans to start.

"The channel offering that we will be providing will be about attracting and retaining existing viewers," said Richard Waghorn, the SABC's chief technology officer.

e.tv and M-Net expanding too

Meanwhile, e.tv is planning on launching its own additional new TV channels as part of Multiview. The broadcaster plans to unveil its commercial free-to-air digital channel bouquet within the first half of 2012 when it launches its DTT offering. The broadcaster said it is in advanced planning stages for its commercial DTT launch next year, that it's building control studios and is busy with content development for the new channels.

Likewise, M-Net is planning a pay-DTT offering for next year. M-Net is set to expand its analogue broadcast which currently only consists of the M-Net channel, a sports channel cobbled together from various feeds of MultiChoice's SuperSport channels, and the Community Service Network (CSN). M-Net will run multiple new M-Net TV channels, presumably single genre thematic channels such as comedy, drama and movies.

R700 to move to digital

This move means that ordinary South African television viewers and the TV households in which daily local soap operas like Generations, 7de Laan, Muvhango and Rhythm City have become cultural touchstones with a combined daily viewership of millions, will have to buy a special set-top box (STB) and, in many cases, also a new antenna.

Viewers who don't buy an STB with an estimated cost of R700 are no longer going to be able to watch their shows once broadcasters start the digital migration process from April 2012.

Broadcasters will switch their analogue signals off within a few years' time after a period of "dual illumination" during which they will be broadcasting both their current analogue signals as well as the new digital signals.

So far the South African government has not yet said how the subsidy programme to buy an STB will work, how it will determine which of the 11 million South African TV households are poor enough to qualify for a subsidy (estimated at five million households), or how the process will work.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) are behind with publishing the manufacturing standards that STBs will have to adhere to.

The South African government is also lagging behind with appointing local manufacturers for STB production. The government is however expected to issue a request for proposals later this month from manufacturers who could supply the STB decoders needed to get digital TV signals.


Why the SABC and e.tv – knowing that MultiChoice exists in South Africa – settled on Multiview as the name for their free-TV bouquet is puzzling. It could lead to confusion in a consumer market that is already going to presumably grapple with the concepts and terminology of a whole new TV system for South Africa.

Countries like Britain, Australia and New Zealand all went with the name Freeview for their DTT offering.

Thinus Ferreira is a TV media expert. Read his blog here.


  • BlackPoison - 2011-09-13 12:41

    R700 for a decoder and Rx for a new antenna........mmmm, that means I needn't pay for a TV license for say 5 years? Or does the term "Free TV" mean that TV licenses are going to be scrapped?

      kidblack - 2011-09-13 12:48

      personally... i would buy a dvb card for my media center pc and with a bit of ffpmeg foo, record and stream all those channels over wifi/ethernet to any phone/laptop/pc/tv in the house.

      nowinlondon - 2011-09-13 13:56

      On the contary, I predict that TV licences will go up a lot (like doubling) to pay for the transition.....

      JP - 2011-09-13 13:57

      We can only hope that TV Licenses will get scrapped. I think more detail will follow closer to 2012. But this is a really cool concept.

      ArtimusPrime - 2011-09-13 14:59

      I once was involved in a campaign to train up the average person on why the TV-licence is important to pay. It was in a comic book form and went over 6 issues. And not once in all 6 issues, did they give a single clear reason why it is vital to pay it.

      Stevie - 2011-09-13 15:33

      I've heard that TV licenses will be scrapped, but an extra % on your tax will pay for the state broadcaster (as pathetic as it is). Nothing is ever free. In fact if the programming standard of the SABC continues, this will simply be yet another tax on SA's sanity.

      13th apostle - 2011-09-13 17:07

      I don't understand, the first Paragraph,confussion between multiview and multichoice, are we in england were evrything comes with a 101 for dummys

      Mike_L - 2011-09-13 17:10

      "...as well as the new 24-hour news channel the SABC plans to start." ANC propaganda all day, every day.... to be financed through TV licences and taxes.

      ir8m8 - 2011-09-13 17:44

      I think that you are all wrong as in the Toll Roads you will probably be charged via taxes per minute that you watch

      tryanything - 2011-09-13 18:35

      There is no good reason to pay for a tv licence

      sniperman - 2011-09-13 18:54

      No Originality from SABC. Can't even run the present service without loss. So how are they going to pay for the new programming (could not afford the Bafan/Niger game)or will this consist of the "poor Quality" progammes that they did not broadcast before. Believe that the licencing will come from a special tax which means that the non-ANC will again be funding the ANC's propoganda weapon

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 03:51

      You pay for a TV licence? Wow! You are such a good person!!!!!:>

  • Clive - 2011-09-13 12:50

    When digital TV takes over fully from analogue, how about the following: Everyone gets a free (basic) desk-top box, which is activated only when a TV licence is purchased/renewed? (If there are more sophisticated DTBs available, viewers will pay the difference.) And please, Media24, can we have proper editing: what do you mean by "... creating a lot of confusion UNDER consumers..."? You mean AMONG consumers?

      Clive - 2011-09-13 12:53

      Sorry, I mean set-top boxes (STBs).

      daaivark - 2011-09-13 13:44

      A great idea, Clive, and I share your frustration regarding the truly poor language being employed by News24 of late. But no matter how many corrections or suggestions one sends them, they seem simply to disregard advice on this issue. Sad really, and very annoying.

      tryanything - 2011-09-13 18:37

      All taxi drivers will be exempt

      tryanything - 2011-09-13 18:50

      Clive when digital takes over from analogue I wont even notice

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 03:54

      I wonder if I still have a TV? I think it is somewhere on the lounge, under the table. Wait! There is is in the corner with the table cloth on it. :>

      Frustrated - 2011-09-14 08:05

      I can assure you clive. That is the reason for the set top boxes. If you don't pay....no signal will reach your tv. They have become very desperate in enforcing license payments.

  • Chops - 2011-09-13 12:53

    Wonder if any of this will be available over the internet for saffas around the world

      Thor - 2011-09-13 13:02

      Given the current state of sabc and etv doubt if I would eat up bandwith for simular crap

      Neles - 2011-09-13 15:33

      or a streaming video of paint drying

      Albo - 2011-09-13 15:44

      It is available - check every show from 10 years ago. I think SABC is almost finished with CSI season 1.

      Chops - 2011-09-13 16:04

      I was thinking specifically of the likes of enews

      LuLuBug - 2011-09-13 16:42

      People who bugger off have no right to watch anything from SA!

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 03:54

      @Nele. LOL

  • AndV - 2011-09-13 13:01

    Another money making rip-off! Just like the special PVR Decoder from M-Net for only R 1 499.00! Sound great, but they don't tell you you also need an upgrade on your dish and an installation fee, appr R 600.00 extra! Crooks!!

      Collitjies - 2011-09-13 16:32

      Your monthly subscription also increases by around R80.00 or is it more than that just to watch more and more adverts.

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 03:56

      SABC. Please come and collect my dust collecting 35 year old TV. It is dying and no I don't want a new one. Waste of time and energy.

  • Craig - 2011-09-13 13:04

    Riaan Cruywagen goes digital...EPIC!!! LOL

      SeriouslyNow - 2011-09-13 13:23

      LMAO Will probably still look exactly the same as 30 years ago!

      SweetApple - 2011-09-13 13:26

      no they are sending him 'Back to the Future'

      NuttyZA - 2011-09-13 14:35

      Haven't you guys seen him on the TV ad for the Loerie awards???? still wearing the same wig!!!

      Point Blank - 2011-09-13 16:01

      Maybe he'll get a new wig?

      Vernon - 2011-09-13 21:00

      haas daas!!just after the ball at 6pm or was it 4pm damn i feel older than him

      Douglas Hendry - 2011-09-13 21:16

      I worked for a Riaan Cruywagen at the SABC in Durban, in the 90's, and he was a 2-faced snake. You should have seen what he tried to do with one of our most famous sports commentators. He could look at you, smile, and knife you in the back, all without disturbing his hairpiece.

  • FaultyZN - 2011-09-13 13:05

    I wonder if the "man in the street" will now be able to watch a rugby match on any given Saturday. Without TV viewership for all South Africans transformation is, and always will be, a farce.

  • thabatao - 2011-09-13 13:12

    Who are going to pay for the 33 million illegal TV viewers' set up boxes and the 10 million poor people. Multichoice has approx 3 million viewers and I wonder if 3 million viewers pay their licences. Looks like South Africa ids going to have 3 million TV viewers, because only the rich DSTV viewers will be able to afford TV.

      green_goblin - 2011-09-13 14:33

      I did not understand a single word you were trying to say there oO

      Albo - 2011-09-13 15:45

      Ummmmm...there are only 3 million viewers that pay their TV licence.

      Jolene Atties - 2011-09-13 16:22

      I am not rich, but I rather skimp then not have my DSTV thank you very much.....I cant handle this SABC "and that Espresso in the morning" the pits I tell you all the presenters are morons.

  • WhiteAgent - 2011-09-13 13:15

    I wouldn't watch anything affiliated with SABC TV, whether it's analog or digital. If you pay a TV licence, you are being screwed over.

  • taxpayer1 - 2011-09-13 13:15

    Great now our tax money is going to to subsidies paid to people to buy new decoder to watch TV , so we pay for their food, house, medicine, transport, education and now for entertainment tooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      majita - 2011-09-13 13:36

      Lest scrap everything that this gov comes up with and return your tax, it'll probably make you feel better, remember then that you have no right to complain about anything. What is it that you guys want exactly?

      Marcus Westin - 2011-09-13 14:02

      Oh Majita: Our money paid over in tax to the corrupt government is already long gone! Pocketed. Spent. Wasted. All stolen by the ANC fat cats.

      demonsofhate - 2011-09-13 16:38

      @majita *double facepalm*

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 04:01

      Remember when SABC tried making everyone pay for Analogue Satellite TV dishes? Only the gullible bought and within a year the scheme was scrapped because the "wise" had gone MNET DSTV. Personally, think TV in South Africa is a colossal waste of time, I wonder if one cans sue SABC for murder by boredom.

      Frustrated - 2011-09-14 08:11

      How many taxpayers in South Africa Majita? Now , how many that need to be provided for by that tax?? Doesn't add up . The few are supporting the many. There is a seriously unbalanced scale here going to topple over....

  • Durbsdude - 2011-09-13 13:32

    Exciting stuff. I wonder how much daytime and evening soapies, substandard education programs and outdated movies one can possibly cram in a day.

      mpumie - 2011-09-13 14:05

      I wonder who will buy this it better to buy DSTV than this. SABC and ETV play the same old movies.

      Neles - 2011-09-13 15:36

      @mpumie and how's that different to dstv repeats?

  • Shirley - 2011-09-13 13:37

    This may help to catch all those viewers who don't pay their TV licence - no licence, no set-top box!!!!! AND NO TV!

      Tholithemba B Ntsele - 2011-09-13 14:11

      come on :)

      Jamie - 2011-09-13 20:40

      The STB's are like DSTV decoders, they can be individually remotely switched, so you'll only get a decoded signal once all fees are paid - that's why they couldn't call it Freeview, it's not going to be free.

  • TRiP - 2011-09-13 13:47

    would be very interesting to see how SABC will actually be able to finance 18 channels while they can't manage 3 meager mediocre current ones.

      Sage - 2011-09-13 15:56

      Good point, sounds very much like the same predicament surrounding the NHI!

  • Marcus Westin - 2011-09-13 13:57

    This is going to be a laugh! Can't wait for the chaos. Millions of the "poor" households with luxury cars parked outside and illegal electricity connections will obviously get the decoder for FREE! And we the honest taxpayers will of course fund this! And 18 free channels? Wow! Can just imagine the rubbish they will show on there.

      Neles - 2011-09-13 15:37

      @Not Black - best you start packing then - I'll send a roll of plastic wrap your way. Hurry, mommy's calling ...

  • Tholithemba B Ntsele - 2011-09-13 14:09

    Megaview, Polyview, Superview, Feedview, Omniview (lol)

  • Not Black - 2011-09-13 14:12

    PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE, my Brothers & Sisters: Go out and but a SONY Branded LCD or LED that has a Built-in Digital Tuner,..... Only models that will feature a "DL" in the Model description has this facility. I have been using such TVs and enjoying almost ALL the test broadcasts.

      Tim - 2011-09-13 15:29

      really? and does this mean one won't/doesn't have to purchase this this new black box?

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 04:05

      There wasn't much point buying a TV thirty years ago, and there is still no point in spending money on one now. I would rather sit in the garden and watch the stars go by, with my trusty braai by my side. :>

  • joe bliksem - 2011-09-13 14:32

    more channels = more rubbish shows = more repeats

  • green_goblin - 2011-09-13 14:46

    IMO the reason why they have not called it freeview and named it multiview is because most of the extra 18 channels that the SABC/ETV/Mnet are coming out with will probably be pay channels. you may get another 1 or 2 channels free like the SABC 1/2/3 and ETV, but the other channels will be locked unless you pay for it. Why else would Mnet be involved with this unless there was money to be made.

      Neles - 2011-09-13 15:38

      mnet? did you read above?

  • BakkieB - 2011-09-13 14:46

    They forgot to tell you that the channels are going to be:- 1.SABC 1 2.SABC 2 3.SABC 3 4.eTV 5.Cooking the Venda way 6.Cooking the Zulu way 7.Gardening in the Transkei 8.101 ways to cook boerewors 9.Re-runs of the governments greatest moments (30 second loop) 10.Takalani Sesame 24 hour channel 11. etc etc

      Neles - 2011-09-13 15:43

      I'd watch 6,7,9,11

      legalize_zol - 2011-09-13 21:20

      'Gardening in the Transkei' sounds like my kind of channel. Here's hoping you're right! ;)

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 04:06

      Don't forget Politics with Mampara or murder by the numbers by Winnie.

      Kisha - 2011-09-18 16:46

      And don't forget the sport...............Now down to the riverside for live coverage of the 2012 fly fishing championship, all quite please!!!

  • AgJaNoFine - 2011-09-13 14:50

    Why does it cost R700 for a STB, when in the UK it only costs £20 (circa R250)? See http://www.digitaluk.co.uk/cost__and__options/service_comparison/one-off_payment/freeview Why are we reinventing the wheel here and devloping this STB from scratch when it already exists? Surely, the costs of devloping something like this in SA should not be as expensive as a first world country like the UK where there is a minimum wage of like R60 an hour. What the heck is going on here? It is madness as usual.

      joe bliksem - 2011-09-13 14:57

      cos if there is a way for the south african to be ripped off, they will find a way to do it.

      legalize_zol - 2011-09-13 21:28

      It's because in England they have the common-sense and technical know-how to make the set-top boxes themselves, whereas we down here in the arse-end of Africa don't. So we send the raw materials to China so that they can be made over there and then have them sent all the way back to us at astronomical cost and to the detriment of our own industries. Makes so much more sense that way *rolls eyes*

      Dips - 2011-09-14 03:36

      Strange how peepol can afford DSTV but not a TeeVee licence.

      Justin Schon - 2011-09-14 09:18

      I think that your point is valid, however it is because the broadcaster must provide STB sets for the poor too who will be subsidised. Therefore the haves pay more. (only ANC members get it free I guess) It is somehow a lot cheaper than the DSTV decoders made by slave labour in China! I mean it can't cost too much for a DSTV PVR Decoder to be made and shipped in. If DSTV were clever they should have given everyone a free decoder at and provide 5 free channels (Mnet, Ochannel, Supersport Blitz, E-News and 107 and SABC Channels) then rather just target the wealthy. They could obtain higher revenue from the poor by getting them hooked on the Quality of Digital before SABC come with their STB. Everyone has an obligation to ensure that a national broadcaster is available to provide important information to the people and inform of all current affair in politics and internationally. Although with the new info bill that will all be classified.. So maybe instead of a TV lisence. Rather a Subscription to SABC of R300 per year and a 15% Luxury tax on every TV set sold. TV License is the cheapest in the world so it is a fair value for money.

  • Fredster69 - 2011-09-13 15:09

    Nothing is for free, nothing

  • Neles - 2011-09-13 15:31

    "Multiview – a name that might end up creating a lot of confusion under consumers" "The SABC and e.tv have now registered Multiview as the brand name for their free-to-air bouquet. Multiview should not be confused with MultiChoice" "Why the SABC and e.tv – knowing that MultiChoice exists in South Africa – settled on Multiview as the name for their free-TV bouquet is puzzling." Wow, you guys up there at naspers sure are worried hey? Well you should be. Soon as you loosen the monopolized grip you have on certain sport, then its good bye and good luck and good riddance. Besides your enemy right now, is yourselves: Box Office - not to be confused with boxoffice.com or the general term box office used to refer to the general success of a movie or the movie The Box or the series The Office.

  • n s - 2011-09-13 15:47

    just what we need, more brainless crap on tv, SABC can't even maintain 3 channels without repeats, it's hard to even find anything good on DSTV!

      legalize_zol - 2011-09-13 21:34

      SABC - won't even go there. DSTV is shameful... every night my family and I wonder if there is going to be a good movie on, but then our optimism is swiftly dashed upon browsing the TV guide. We have way more luck paying a visit to the local DVD store or finding a decent torrent online.

  • Torrac - 2011-09-13 16:17

    Hmmm... No TV license no set top box, no set top box no TV... Expect a baby boom.

  • Elaine - 2011-09-13 16:22

    What would be great is that only people who have a box, and can therefor watch TV would have to pay TV-Licenses. So in other words I could then honestly prove that I only watch DVD's on my TV, which is impossible to prove at the moment. So instead of me having to pay for a TV license when I NEVER watch TV, I can then stop. Thank You SABC

  • Commonsense - 2011-09-13 16:29

    I currently have a TV that is picking up the digital signals. Presumably its picking up broadcasts from the testing being done at the moment. I have seen the SABC movie channel, eNews channel, a few kiddies channels etc... Can someone explain to me why my TV can pick it up (with a normal aerial by the way- its picking up a digital signal)? Is there anyone else that has experienced this?

      Valis - 2011-09-13 18:10

      The signal is still physically the same i.e. broadcast over the air via terrestrial transmitters. However the information carried by the signal is in digital form, instead of analog. Your TV has a tuner capable of making sense of the digital information to show a picture. Old TVs have a tuner that makes sense out of the analog information. So now they need to plug in a tuner that can make sense of the digital information. The information still comes via the usual physical signal. Also the tuner (or STB) is *not* a decoder as such.

      Neles - 2011-09-14 10:17

      I've experienced it - but only when I'm wearing my aluminium foil hat

      Commonsense - 2011-09-15 13:01

      @Valis. Thank you. Makes complete sense now. I invested in the right brand then. Sony.

  • grimbie1 - 2011-09-13 16:40

    Ah shame South Africa, just been reading all the problems that are around with high murder rates and all the turns with the YL the international interest and investment gets further and further away. I say this as I have just read that the meerKAT telescope and the SKA project meetings are being held in Australia. From it seems the interest in investing in SA is now not even a consideration. With ARR moving from Kennedy Space station to Melbourne and the first meetings taking place there, all the international investment from this which would have benefitted the country are now even further away. Sorry guys but it seems South Africa messed up another one.

      Neles - 2011-09-13 17:26

      ah shame

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 04:14

      Final decision is still to be made in 2012. Meetings are being held in both SA and Oz.

  • mavuso77 - 2011-09-13 17:20

    When I was in London, the set top boxes were called Freeview. They costed +-20 pounds. We are once again being ripped off! I wonder which fat cat is making the extra R500 off this.....

  • Lestor - 2011-09-13 20:51

    Yay more stuff for people to waste there time on. Seriously don't you have anything better to do than watch TV. Got rid of my TV 6 years ago, best decision I ever made.

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 04:15

      Give you one guess!!! The government AKA, ANC cadres AKA Zuma, Malema, etc. Certainly not the people. Typical government - The government screws the country and the people go hungry. Punchline of a very old joke, still relevant today.

  • Trxy - 2011-09-13 21:44

    yeah, but in Marketing, all the clients that don't quite know the brand, may search for something similar...old trick! AND, we've been having bad service from the original brand....

  • Ruan - 2011-09-13 22:51

    ....i pay 71 euros per month which incl. the HD subscription pack.....all the SKYSPORTS channels (1,2,3,4 and SKYSPORTS XTRA in HD. All the movie channels....and i've just down-loaded the SKYGO application.....which means i can watch a variety of channels incl. all the SKYSPORTS- channels....on my little netbook !! If anyone can beat that in SA,,,,,

      Neles - 2011-09-14 10:31

      Uncapped ADSL - stream aggregators. Every channel, every movie, every game I ever need to watch.

  • BOER - 2011-09-14 01:06

    We got those decoders for free here in the US. Why should you pay for it if they are the ones that changes the system from Analogue to digital? I call crap on them.

      pitbull - 2011-09-14 04:16

      What does one expect from the money grubbing beaurocrats of South Africa.

  • Ruan - 2011-09-14 03:01

    ......sa tv sucks....i live overseas and my SKY HD PLUS BOX IS THE BEST !!

  • pitbull - 2011-09-14 03:50

    The new channels will probably be just as boring as the four current channels they have already. I watch two programmes a week, if I am at home. I certainly don't rush home to watch TV!

  • Sisie - 2011-09-14 07:44

    That's wonderful - someone is making money big time. Has anyone thought about those poor pensioners who rely on their TV for entertainment going to do - or does that mean that the government will supply these for free to the pensioners. Someone hasn't thought this through properly.

  • HardHitter - 2011-09-14 08:18

    Their free channels, the one that they have shows the biggest lot of rubbish... let us see, I have 20 hrs a week to watch TV, E-Tv have one show of 20 minutes, HOw I met your MOther on sunday evenings. 18 more fee channels, what are we going to see if E-TV and the disfunctional zero Iq 3 SABC channels already have the world's rubbish on it? More wrestling? FFS

  • ecoecho - 2011-09-14 08:42

    Well, as a pensioner I will not be able to afford to buy either a new TV or a new aerial or one of the decoders, so what happens to the likes of people like me. As I understood it people like myself will not fall in line for being provided a digibox and certainly not for purchase and installation of a new aerial. What makes me cross about all these sorts of things - like deciding to change the number plates yet again or the drivers licences, is that the ordinary public are just expected to cough up.

  • Optimistic81 - 2011-09-14 09:18

    I don't understand why we have to pay for tv licenses. they tracked me down when i came back from overseas after living there for a few years. they are saying that I owe over R4000 for unpaid tv licenses over the years. when i told them i didn't need the tv license because 1. i lived with my boyfriend who then got a tv license and 2. i went overseas, so alas no need for a tv or a license in south africa, they told me i needed to pay to avoid being blacklisted.

  • Mona Blue - 2011-09-14 11:04

    It would be nice if they scrap the TV License fee but will they do it? NO South Africa, they'll increase it and continue to air re-runs. I don't watch SABC channels or ETV and yet I pay my damn TV License... Madness I know but I don't want some Douche from the SABC knocking on my front door to ask why I don't pay my license fee for free-to-air tv. Nothing is free in South Africa! Don't you dare think about adjusting my tax to pay for that rubbish either because that'll mean war!

  • NOFX1609 - 2011-09-15 14:42

    18 channels of pure kak. i simply cannot wait

  • Royal_Bee - 2011-09-23 16:22

    18 more channels of nonsense.

      Thuso Orie - 2015-07-02 13:34

      Etv movie

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