No more free TV for rest of Africa

2013-07-02 13:34
Thinus Ferreira
Cape Town – For the rest of Africa it’s the end of free, pirated viewing of the South Africa’s SABC channels and after the broadcasters’ signals emanating from South Africa to neighbouring African countries were shut down.
While South African viewers complain bitterly about the sad state of affairs and quality of public television and while growing numbers of them are pirate viewing overseas TV fare from the United States and Britain, the rest of Africa have in turn been turning to South Africa’s SABC1, SABC2, SABC3 and whose signals have been beaming much better entertainment programming into the rest of Africa.

Millions have been watching for free
Literally millions of African viewers have been watching South African broadcasters’ signals on free-to-air Chinese decoders such as Philibao, Wiztech, Fortec and South Africa’s Vivid decoders available from the South African parastatal signal distributor Sentech who’ve failed to properly encrypt the signals outside of South Africa’s borders.
Southern African viewers have been clamouring to watch the SABC and and their more frothy, faux glam entertainment, finding the mix of South African public television and its soap, news and reality television offering better than what they’re being offered by local public and state broadcasters on which they’ve been subjected to poor programming line-ups, low broadcasting and production standards and a lack of variety.

Complained about failure to keep SA's signal within it's borders

Local African broadcasters and pan-continental business units such as operating customised regional TV stations such as eBotswana have complained for a long time about Sentech’s failure to keep South Africa’s TV signals, unencrypted, out of the rest of Africa, arguing that it’s been having a debilitating effect on their viewership and ad revenue since viewers are watching the SABC and’s TV content they’re not supposed to.  
Besides watching content not licensed to be shown in other regional territories, multinational companies and brands have opted to rather forsake TV stations in certain African countries to advertise on South African television, knowing their TV commercials and products will be seen by viewers across Africa through the TV signals of South African broadcasters in those countries anyway.
Signals were cut

Yesterday the signals were cut, with viewers across Africa from Zimbabwe to Botswana now forced to return to their own state and public broadcasters or sign up for more expensive pay-TV options such as DStv. Upset African viewers outside of South Africa are now complaining about no longer getting SABC1, SABC2, SABC3, and the “popular Christian programmes” they used to watch.
Last year Sentech was ordered by the South Gauteng High Court to encrypt South Africa’s free-to-air broadcasting signals by the end of May 2012 after it found Sentech “wrongful, negligent and in breach” for its failure to encrypt South Africa’s TV signals spilling over outside of South Africa.

Sentech which appealed the decision eventually decided to drop the case recently. eBotswana is however still pursuing its claim of damages against Sentech. eBotswana last year claimed R8 million in financial losses from Sentech’s failure to keep South African TV content in South Africa.


  • Richard Scully - 2013-07-02 13:41

    Lucky rest of Africa, we can't pay enough for the SABC to close down and stop stealing the tax cash

  • Lucky Luke - 2013-07-02 14:02

    people pirate SABC?!!! must be really s%^t tv where they are!!

      Karl Reed - 2013-07-02 15:26

      You have no idea bud. It's like a highlight. Everyone stays in on Sundays for the premier movie

  • odupreez - 2013-07-02 14:21

    This opens a new market for DSTV into Africa, SABC cut the signal, so now the viewers have to purchase a DSTV option (obviously a special option for Africa),thissounds more like collusion to me, What kickback has DSTV offered the SABC ??

      Amdyn - 2013-07-02 18:11

      Actually advertisers WERE paying for content. It is like newspapers - the sabc viewer base just dropped significantly. I suspect the advertising revenues will drop accordingly meaning that we the taxpayers will fund yet more of the sabc losses. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

  • Simphiwe Tladi - 2013-07-02 14:26

    Free everything comes from my country,South Africa!

      AntikZa - 2013-07-02 15:25

      So true

  • Michael Konings - 2013-07-02 17:08

    Africa should share "culture" not isolate it. The very first step to integration of the region.

  • Simon Ramapuputla - 2013-07-02 17:08

    SABC offering better programes or content. I think it depends where you are? I am proud of SABC achievement, but to us South African they are offering crap

  • Midnite Man - 2013-07-02 19:18

    I have never held a tv-licence- why ? Because u don't need a tv-set these days to watch it! I-PAD, my lap-top, I-PHONE.....all for free !!!

  • Fana Maswabi - 2013-07-02 22:19

    How is that possible when people can access dstv for free via magic box? I ve learnt dat half of people in the UK watch pirated tv signal.

      Tom Heath - 2013-07-03 15:41

      Im in the uk. Where did you hear this? Nowhere, dont just make up facts

  • Benjamin Edwin - 2013-07-02 23:29


  • Neels Botha - 2013-07-03 08:06

    Oh no, what are we going to watch now, please don't cut SABC and E-TV? LOL.

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