SABC 24-hour news channel for DStv

2013-07-05 15:32
SABC news channel
Cape Town – The SABC's plan to launch its own 24-hour news channel – which doesn't have an official name yet – is back on and will be launched on pay-TV platform DStv.

No channel number on DStv is confirmed yet although 404 was originally earmarked for the on-again, off-again, on-again channel. Although the SABC uses the term "channel 404", it has not been confirmed.

No startdate is confirmed yet either for the expensive news operation, although the SABC's group CEO Lulama Mokhobo says the "news channel will be launched on August 1 where more information will be communicated". This doesn't mean that the channel will actually start broadcasting on August 1.

eNCA (DStv 403) is currently South Africa's only 24-hour TV news channel as well as an independent one. The Africa News Network 7 (ANN7) also plans to start within months on MultiChoice's DStv also as an independent news TV station and has started the hiring process for on-air and technical personnel.


This means that there will be three local South African 24-hour news channels on South African television within months, all three broadcasting on Multichoice's DStv.

The SABC's news channel, which was set to replace SABC News International after it was shut down, was set to start airing in April 2012 after several earlier launch attempts. The launch was then moved to September 2012 and then the plans for the channel were abandoned due to lack of finances and the implosion of the SABC board.

Now the SABC says that it has signed a multi-channel agreement with MultiChoice which includes the broadcasting of the SABC's 24 hour news channel, although the SABC isn't saying what "multi-channel" means within the context of the news channel. The SABC, in a statement calls it the SABC's "24 Hour News Channel" - though that is not the official or confirmed name, Channel24 can report.

"Without our own news channel, SABC television news is constantly having to play catch-up," said Jimi Matthews, the acting head of news and current affairs at the SABC. Referring to the ailing Nelson Mandela who remains in critical condition in hospital, he says "events over the past few weeks once again amplified the need for a 24-hour news platform."

'Extend focus on provincial stories'

"We are delighted to conclude this agreement with the SABC as we believe it will enhance our local content offering on DStv," said Imtiaz Patel, CEO of MultiChoice South Africa. "The news channel in particular will bring diversity to our news programming, as it will provide our audiences with different views and news from an African perspective."

"One of the key undertakings of the news channel is that it will provide an opportunity for the SABC to enhance its public service mandate and extend its focus on provincial stories and the different official languages," says Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC's acting chief operating officer in the statement.

"We are very excited about this partnership with MultiChoice as it will expose South African news stories to an audience not inly in the country but outside of South Africa as well. As a public service broadcaster our mandate is to entertain, inform and educate and there is no better vehicle than news and current affairs to deliver on this."

Motsoeneng says that "to be able to extend our reach further, can only be to the benefit of the South African public."
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