SABC wants R1.6bn for digital TV

2011-09-23 15:25
Thinus Ferreira
Cape Town – The SABC, and M-Net are planning to launch the broadcasters' digital terrestrial television (DTT) offering in April 2012 but the SABC wants R1.6bn from the government to do it.

The broadcasters are planning a "soft launch" as the South African television industry moves from analogue to digital broadcasting, a process known as digital migration, but the SABC told parliament it has applied for R1.6bn in funding, as well as many millions more for related services, and that the SABC's DTT plans predicated on getting this funding.

R1.6bn is for TV content for the new channels, another R90m for marketing of DTT, and another R145m for a new digital master control centre over the next three years.

The SABC is currently also upgrading all the public broadcaster's playout centres, called final control centres (FCC). They're all being digitised with SABC1 which just went operational.

"Basically over the course of the 3 years, - 2013, 2014 and 2015 - content cost is in the region of R1.6bn," said Richard Waghorn, the SABC's chief technology officer.

"That's excluding the SABC Sport channel and the new 24-hour news channel. In terms of the infrastructure for marketing for DTT it's in the region of R90m, again over three years," he said. "The cost of the SABC's digital playout centre is R145m including the new master control centre."

New features

The estimated 11 million TV households in South Africa will have to buy a set top box (STB) when the digital migration happens in order for TV sets to receive the new digital signals.

The commercial free-to-air broadcaster told parliament that it wants to do a soft launch in April 2012 and "a full commercial DTT launch" between July and September 2012. The SABC, which is planning 18 TV channels – 17 linear TV channels and one interactive video services channel – as well as 18 SABC radio stations plus Channel Africa, also promised several features and services that will come with the DTT roll-out.

"The SABC will also use the functionality of DTT to provide the following services: closed captioning (on-screen subtitles) in multiple languages that can be accessed by the set top box's remote control, multiple language soundtracks – up to four different audio tracks which can be provided per programme – audio  description to provide contextual information in programmes, and interactive applications which will assist with e-government services," Lumko Mtimde, SABC board member and chairperson of the broadcaster's technology committee told parliament.

New news channel in 11 languages

He revealed that the SABC's planned new 24-hour news channel will broadcast in all 11 official South African languages and that the channel's programming will include talk shows, documentaries, news bulletins, breaking and live news coverage.

The SABC worked under the assumption that "the full channel line-up that we have, is subject to funding [from government]", said Waghorn about the broadcaster's proposed 18 TV channels.

"The SABC's intention is also not to make all of TV channels available at the launch of DTT immediately. The availability of STBs will still be very small. The intention is to ramp up the launch of channels as STBs increase within the market. We will have a phased launch in the market through the following two to three years," Waghorn told parliament.

The SABC's DVB-T2 trial will also be extended to Cape Town in early 2012 in advance of the April 2012 soft launch window of DTT. 


  • Barry M - 2011-09-23 15:37

    Spare change for old Julius - he will gladly pass his brothers at the South African Broadcorping Castration some much needed funds.

      letsee - 2011-09-23 16:10

      The SABC should look for the 800 million or so that are missing. That's where the priority is before going for more tenders.

      Coconut - 2011-09-23 16:14

      This is fantastic. Now we can receive ANC propaganda in digital format.

      WiseOwl2 - 2011-09-23 16:19

      Eisssh will Africa ever get rid of that begging bowl mentality ?????

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-23 16:33

      In addition to the "newspaper" the ANC wants to start... well if it's free, we can always use it for something, like masking during spraypainting, or to line a cat's litterbox...

      Met - 2011-09-23 16:38

      What the heck- give them R2 billion- R ,4 billion for bonuses for their efficient and competent , hardworking, honest staff

      Danzig - 2011-09-23 16:55

      Moderbuck! 90 MILLION RAND on Marketing? Are you serious?????

      Joe_Public - 2011-09-23 17:02

      These idiots should go and get mounted by a pole somewhere in the bush

  • Matt :-) - 2011-09-23 15:37

    SABC (aka S-ANC) isn't worth paying R1.60 for let alone R1.6bn

      Cynical_BStd - 2011-09-23 16:33

      Wag horns salary is over 4 million rand

  • Jannie Swem - 2011-09-23 15:40

    i thnk we have bigger issues to worry about, like unemployment, poor education, and crime this sounds like a major investment in an ANC propogande machine

      Organist-1 - 2011-09-24 08:48

      Jannie ----- OooooooKayyyyyyy. Now we know why there is such a panic to build toll gates all over the country. As wiseowl2 said above. Begging bowl mentality. and if the people wont give willingly, we WILL take it from them.

  • leonard - 2011-09-23 15:45

    PRIORITIES ,that is the name of the game missing in our country.With millions of people unhoused,unskilled,out of work and going to bed hungry every night,where in G-DS name will this money come from.TV is available as we speak.So what if it is not in high everything or whatever they want to call it,WE HAVE TV.Look after the people first,worry about TV later.A rider......Maybe there is something in the back pocket for those taking the decision......Just a thought.

  • JacobR - 2011-09-23 15:45

    What a waste! This government sometimes has the arrogance to think it is a first world country!

      pitbull - 2011-09-25 16:24

      It isn't even a third world country. It barely functions, just above death.

  • Sean - 2011-09-23 15:48

    So that's R1.5Bn for bonuses and then the rest for the actual upgrade... yep, that sounds about right.

      lance.trent.kilkenny - 2011-09-23 15:53

      100% sean, we all know that its not for content. they can hardly fill 3 channels with something worthwile, besides the rugby world cup, how on earth are they gonna fill more channels with good content?!?!?!

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-23 15:54

      Or, R100m for the upgrade and R1.5bn in fees to ANC government people to curse us with their presence on either of the 18 new S-ANC channels, to tell us how GOOD the ANC is...

  • Tebogo - 2011-09-23 15:49

    There we go again. I hope this is not another excuse to get money and pocket it...

  • Matt :-) - 2011-09-23 15:50

    On the bright side, ANC 1,2,3 encourage family time and employment. Family time - because you'd sooner switch the TV off and chat to the wife Employment - because daytime tv is so dreadful that staying at home for 3 weeks watching that s*** will either make you want to work or commit suicide. Yes, it is THAT bad...

      Organist-1 - 2011-09-24 08:56

      @Matt, and not to forget ---- rerun after rerun after rerun. Violence after violence after violence --- especially ETV. Their "family entertainment" means the warning label "VSNL". Whats your pick? Seeing blood and gore with daggers, murder and semi-atomatics mowing down people , or a stupid "Fuzzed" out blob of what maybe was someones backside or 1/2 view of a breast?. Get real. Just take a drive through the valley of a thousand hills one day.

  • MojoBa - 2011-09-23 15:50

    Oh for freak sakes. They can't even manage the funds they have at the moment. Ludicrous!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • keng - 2011-09-23 15:56

    I would like to suggest that the money is given to several of the big auditing firms who will ensure the the assets are delivered, installed, placed on the asset register before 1 cents is paid to the vendors ensuring that the money doesn't disappear. For their services they will be remunerated at the same rate. SABC and other government owned enterprises are not banks and should not be dealing with money until compliance approves such payment, just like a real big private company.

      Organist-1 - 2011-09-24 16:38

      Good idea. Personally I don't think much of the auditing in the arithmetic department. My own case. 12 e-mails over a period of 3 weeks to the license department re a cost query and they don't even have the guts to reply. Their public relations is the pits to say the least. Then when I get an account, I find they can't even do simple arithmetic in the debit and credit columns, subtracting one from the other to get a right answer.

  • ANC Comrade - 2011-09-23 16:04

    I don't even have a TV.

      MojoBa - 2011-09-23 16:07

      Don't worry! I'm sure Malema is working on getting one for you ;-)

      Coconut - 2011-09-23 19:40

      Consider yourself lucky.

      Organist-1 - 2011-09-24 16:41

      Don't worry, he probably has one that's not licensed. Got it from the "recycling chain" that obtained it through a broken window while the owners were out shopping.

  • Tshiamo - 2011-09-23 16:05

    An instution known for massproducing "celebrities" with a shortshelf life from newsreaders to assistant receptionists!

  • joshreader - 2011-09-23 16:07

    Do any of you remember in the late 1990s when the SABC spent millions on an analogue TV system that was supposed to be a huge hit, which became very quickly obsolete after DSTV caught on. The analogue TV system was an horrendous failure. I think this new digital migration is very different - it's just aligning our local television with a digital standard already employed successfully by much of the developed world - but I am wondering how the SABC arrived at the R1.6bn estimate. What if it's more? What if it's much more? What content will these '17 linear TV stations' consist of, when the SABC currently does not have enough money to fund the content of even three television stations? Let me guess, one television station will just show reruns of 'Isidingo' and 'Generations' all day. The 24-hour news channel is not a bad idea at all, but, as another commenter has said, what assurances do we have that this won't be the Propaganda Channel? Again, who will be funding all this, if R1.6bn does not prove to be enough? In theory, this is a great idea: think about how many jobs will be created for those supplying audio commentary to shows and writing and recording 'contextual information.' But what is lacking in the SABC's plans for digital migration - much like what is lacking in the government's plan for national healthcare - is, ironically, contextual information. This is structurally a good idea, but there is a lack of substance behind the structure - or at least a lack of...

      Organist-1 - 2011-09-24 16:49

      I don't know where you get your facts. The analogue system was the only system known when introduced in 1975. (NOTE) 1990 has nothing to do with it. It was a world wide system but comprised 3 different methos of transmission and reception. NTSC, SECAM and PAL. SA inntheir wisdom chose PAL which became the world standard. Digital TV is a completely different technical system of transmission and reception developed over the last number of years. The main reason is that with digital TV you can squeeze more channals into the given bandwidth available. also the old reason why in the 60's they moved from AM to FM. But I agree, they probably want to start a propaganda channel.

      pitbull - 2011-09-25 16:29

      SABC TV has always been a horrendous failure. Even when TV's were new in SA they cost more than three month's salary AND they were five years old by the time they went up for sale. They were mostly old stock from Germany and Japan. Much about what we have happening nowadays. When next you buy an electronic item look at the date on the back. Chances are that it is six months to a year old already.

  • ratex - 2011-09-23 16:08

    Well a good start to raise the funds would be to have the decoder in place, so no paya da licens then no watcha da teevee. This way you know how many people are watching. Secondly, given the track record of the SABC and their recent bankruptcy, i very much doubt that the costs are so high. Lastly, If i do not watch sabc's 19 channels of cANCer BS, do I still need a licence for my M net? I mean lets be honest here, these licence funds all go straight to the cANCer coffers and I have no intentions of donating any more money to these cretins

  • letsee - 2011-09-23 16:10

    The SABC should look for the 800 million or so that are missing. That's where the priority is before going for more tenders.

      pitbull - 2011-09-25 16:29

      Fire the corrupt management and hire honest people.

  • joshreader - 2011-09-23 16:13

    ... transparency in what has been reported so far. Thus much of the structure seems unsound. South Africa is a country whose citizens are constantly asked to contribute to the broader society, even while its government has become expert at shutting us out, and of closing down the conversation. The current SABC is markedly different from the newly democratic, aspirant SABC of 1992, which - at least for a short time - was one of transparency, diversity and oversight. The SABC imploded in 2008 - bankrupt, corrupt, mismanaged, inept - and then, as now, there is a notable and dangerous lack of transparency, accountability or information available to the public, who partly bankroll this shoddy organisation.

  • abg100 - 2011-09-23 16:15

    Aha some more sabc employees want dstv-word is out,now they all want.Ask the minister who hired a private plane because she didnt want her bag through security-shes obviously rolling in it! Who is going to cough up for the subsidised boxes???Better do some serious tanning!

  • Tshiamo - 2011-09-23 16:15

    In Botswana we catch SABC channels gratis - without paying a TV licence - through a cheap decoder made in China that costs R130. The Chinese have given digital migration a whole new meaning. In other parts of Africa as well its gratis. Wondering what's the fuss all about.

      Matt :-) - 2011-09-23 16:31

      Yup, when I was in Holland they had Filmnet (now Canal+, linked to M-Net) and for the first few years people built decoders themselves to get it for free... there will always be a way to crook the system

  • Bonga - 2011-09-23 16:16

    F*%#K off we will stay with analogue then we don't really have to go with this digital crap! R1.6B That's more than Duduzane Zuma's share from that steel deal! LOL

  • Herbert - 2011-09-23 16:24

    Why don't they renage / lessen the burden of content generation and transmit CNN / BBC World / Al Jazeera / Sky / discovery etc. Those cahnnels are cheap. dont forget, 25% of what you pay DSTV goes into the coffers of the ANC in any case.

  • Brainbow - 2011-09-23 16:28

    S'ABC? Apparently s'not.

      Coconut - 2011-09-23 19:41


  • Crippler - 2011-09-23 16:38

    Tell them to cancel their DSTV subscriptions that they pay for their staff and they'll soon have the money they need.

  • joshreader - 2011-09-23 16:50

    Hey News24, why don't you run a competition for your readers: 'How would you programme SABC's 18 new channels?' The person with the best suggestions gets a free Set Top Box (otherwise known as an STB, not to be confused with an STD, sexually transmitted disease). The runner-up gets to be the new CEO of the SABC. Ha ha. Seriously, though, how will they programme 18 channels, when there is barely an hour of decent TV on the three bankrupt and pathetic channels that currently exist?

      popaye - 2011-09-24 21:15

      Clearly you don't understand the whole thing. 1. The R1.6 billion is SOLELY for bonuses. 2. The 18 channels is just flim flam Taking these two facts together you can see that this is just an new way to get taxpayer money into private pockets. NOW do you get it?

  • Unskinny Bob - 2011-09-23 16:55

    Just shut the SABC down. Failed experiment.

      pitbull - 2011-09-25 16:33

      Absolutely agree with you. OR just fire the whole lot and start from scratch. Wait a second, that would mean you would actually have to hire honest people, and the people doing the hiring are too corrupt.

  • Colorblind - 2011-09-23 16:56

    This is one institution that should be privatized

  • Wishbone - 2011-09-23 17:05

    How come eTv and Mnet can do it as part of their business operation but the SABC has to ask for a shareholder(taxpayer) cash injection? Close the SABC down and the country will be better off.

  • 106SA - 2011-09-23 17:15

    That should line the pockets of at least a few board members!!

  • vegetarian - 2011-09-23 17:20

    I agree that SABC mostly broadcast rubbish, but it is still better than the rubbish content foisted on our people by the previous regime. The rightwing idiots complaining now were content to watch primitive footage and views but are now complaining when things are improving, albeit still unsatisfactory. People, you are free to relocate.

  • vegetarian - 2011-09-23 17:28

    Regarding the funding, SABC is a state broadcaster and therefore entitled to the funding from our taxes. We are happy to be of assistance during this time of tranformation at the SABC and we hope that these changes will lead to the elimination of rubbish content that characterizes daily broadcasts. Those who are complaining about this investment on change are useless whingers.

      50something - 2011-09-23 17:46

      Get real - see my calculations further on and let me know if the SABC is still entitled to tax payer's funding?

      Valis - 2011-09-23 19:02

      What do you mean "our" taxes? You lot don't pay any taxes.

  • getnotted - 2011-09-23 17:32

    Me confused worse than SABC, do we not always need content to show (movies and the like). The only difference here is that is will be broadcast on a digital network and not analouge. I thought that had to do with how the signal was sent, so why now 1,6bn for content just because the transmission format is changing. They knew this was coming three years ago.(Me thinks it must be bonus time again)

  • 50something - 2011-09-23 17:35

    With 11 mil households, each paying their TV license, that should yield R2,75 billion. over three years, thats a staggering R8,25 billion. No problem to fund it - but then, how many of those 11 mil are actually paying their licenses?? Not too many I guess, so the taxpayer, who is probably alos paying their TV licenses, must cough up again.

  • BnQE - 2011-09-23 18:15

    Upgrade you MANAGEMENT 1st ... Wonder what answers would come back if SABC had to run the question amongst their staff if they know the difference between Analogue & Digital - think it would make for funny reading ...

  • Mboneli - 2011-09-23 18:40

    With regard to the objectives of SABC in terms of expanding it's network i'm fully support the view point when they want to move from analogue to digital migration because it will create a lot of programs local and international. Now the government must set side the requested amount of R6bn just to cover those needs wants.I would also thanks the excutive team for seeing ahead.Bye from

      leonard - 2011-09-23 20:41

      @Mboneli...As with the rest of your kind,truely and undeniably brain dead.To write rubbish like this you qualify top of the class.Pleeeeeeeze go and play in the traffic on the N1.You have really made me beyond cross.A/H.

  • Charger - 2011-09-23 18:46

    Atleast now i dont hav to pay tv license any more.

  • Jean - 2011-09-23 18:47

    this is a major boost for SA infrastructure if you go do research on the tech before making comment you would no this will be good for us like the World cup was

      leonard - 2011-09-23 20:51

      @Jean....... I defy you or any of your ANC apologists to prove what good the soccer world cup actually did for SA other than cause untold misery for millions of people due to a lack of funds for much needed infrastructure now.You people live in lala land.A/H

  • Kosmonooit - 2011-09-23 19:32

    If it ain't bust, don't fix it! Nothing wrong with the current analogue system. This is such a con. And, another day, another useless and unnecessary CapEx project funded by tax payers. The forces at work here are obvious.

      qwrtydude - 2011-09-23 21:12

      Not a con but an international treaty. Analogue is hogging limited frequency space and lacks basics like parental control. The issue of digital vs analogue is null argument. The SABC funding is what is the issue here.

  • R.Suppards - 2011-09-23 20:55

    Best way to fund a major part of this is to collect licence fees from free loaders. Or would that upset too many troughy voters.

  • R.Suppards - 2011-09-23 21:00

    If we taxpayers give you 1.6 Billion, will you please shut up shop, piss off, and stop making a nuisance of yourselves, and a constant drain on the econonomy. P.S. Take the rest of your SOE mates with you.

  • ZACommentator - 2011-09-24 03:53

    Why do we need the SABC? I never ever watch it. Who does?

  • Olavin - 2011-09-24 05:41

    The government should take it from the $3,75-billion loan the other failed entity, Eskom, got from the World Bank.

  • Ian - 2011-09-24 09:08

    hw about the 150 MILLION that was supposed to be used to buy new shows, obviously local crap as the supplier showered the buyer with gifts instead, its all on my broadband

  • Babba x - 2011-09-24 09:10

    Ant they want it from you tax money

  • pietskiet - 2011-09-24 11:05

    Please close down the SABC. No one actually looks at their programmes any more. They are archaic and the money can be used for better things.

  • mmoledis - 2011-09-24 11:47

    That is a very great move as we will start paying tv licences with pride knowing that we will get what we want and what we are paying for, so that is a good idea and a good move and lastly we hope that on those 18 channels we will have two separate sports channels showing sports related issues only and then that will make SABC to be in par to can compete with the likes of Super sport when coming to broadcasting rights.

  • R.Suppards - 2011-09-24 22:10

    Are these goons capable of implementing a project to the value of R1.6 BILLION, without half of it going AWOL. Best close the whole operation down. The thinking people of RSA do not need SABC.

  • Polar1 - 2011-09-24 23:48

    You would get more brain stimulation staring at a deserted bird nest than watchin sabc tv.

  • pitbull - 2011-09-25 16:23

    Now go and look in Soweto and Alexandra and see how many DSTV dishes there are next to the TV aerials. I don't plan to buy a new TV set or tuner box just to satisfy SABC, so please come and collect the 30 year old TV that I have been using and shove it where the sun don't shine.

  • unrealchris - 2011-09-26 16:44

    And why not get it from advertising????? Adverts generates about 4 bn every year for the sabc, so why the 1.6???

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