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SABC trims its digital ambitions

South Africa’s SABC public broadcaster says it will now only launch its digital transmissions with just five channels. In 2011 SABC told a parliamentary committee that digital TV would see it transmit 18 channels.

Currently SABC transmits SABC-1 (Nguni languages, some English), SABC-2 (some English/Afrikaans), SABC-3 (English/Afrikaans) and SABC News (multi-lingual), and a ‘catch-up/best of’ channel called SABC Encore. SABC News and Encore are available on DStv.

SABC’s COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, talking to local journalists said: ““We are preparing ourselves for [digital television] migration. When [broadcasting minister Faith Muthambi] announces the date of migration, switching on, SABC will be ready,” said Motsoeneng. “We’ll be having five channels for the first time in the history of South Africa.”

It seems, at least for the time being, SABC has dropped plans to expand. It had promised sport, health, education, a kids channel, as well as regional and additional dedicated language specific channels.

South Africa has already admitted that it will be missing the ITU-mandated June 17 deadline for the adoption of all-digital TV, and the dropping of analogue transmissions (see separate story).

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