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SABC's news channel to launch April 1

2012-03-06 12:48
Cape Town – The SABC plans to launch its "new" 24-hour news channel on April 1 in conjunction with MultiChoice, who will be contributing a once-off R10m to the news channel to help with start-up costs and a further R15m annually to have the channel on the DStv platform.

The SABC tried to launch the new 24-hour news channel on April Fools' day last year, but didn't make the deadline and moved it to October.

The October date came and went and the planned start was moved to 2012. Now, April 1 is the new target date once again.

The SABC told parliament that the new news channel is seen as a key driver of the transformation and turn-around strategy for the public broadcaster.

SABC Sport TV channel

The SABC is planning to spend R288.9m over the next three years on the 24-hour news channel which is to replace the failed SABC News International channel launched in July 2007.

The SABC News International channel ran for less than two and a half years before closing down in March 2010 despite an investment of millions of rands by the SABC.
The channel will be new competition for's eNews Channel (DStv 403) which has so far been the only South African 24-hour TV news channel in the country.

The SABC is also planning to spend R732.7m on setting up a separate SABC Sport TV channel over the next two years.

Both the news channel, which will launch on MultiChoice, and the eventual sport channel, will become free channels as part of the SABC's digital terrestrial television (DTT) offering during the switch-over to digital broadcasting in South Africa.

Stringent targets

The new 24-hour news channel will cost the SABC at least R80m per year to operate. MultiChoice plans to make the new SABC news channel available in South Africa as well as hroughout Southern Africa, including Angola, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

As opposed to SABC News International which tried to include international news, the new 24-hour channel will have a primary emphasis on local South African news.

The channel will also show documentaries, have talk shows, current affair shows and some magazine shows geared towards topical interests like health, government and business news.

MultiChoice has set extremely stringent targets for the SABC to provide a TV news channel to the DStv platform. MultiChoice will keep the news channel on the DStv platform for at least 5 years if the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), approves the channel application.

Apart from the once-off R10m to help with start-up costs and R15m annually to have the channel on the DStv platform, MultiChoice will also contribute R5m in broadcasting equipment, according to documents.

In exchange, MultiChoice will be able to cancel the channel with 3 months' written notice if aspects of the channel aren't up to standard or not meeting performance requirements over various criteria.

The SABC didn't immediately respond to media enquiries made about the news channel.

Multichoice said: "MultiChoice does not comment on speculation. When we are ready to launch new channels on the DStv platform, we will make the necessary announcement."

Read more on:    dstv  |  multichoice  |  etv  |  sabc  |  tv
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