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South Africa’s public broadcaster, SABC, is adding a 6th TV channel. However, the news comes amid some local controversy over access to the channel.
Currently SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 are all available over the air to all viewers. SABC News is carried on satellite (DStv channel 404) and might also be carried on Digital Terrestrial when it becomes available. SABC Encore is a repeats channel (DStv 156) again not available to all viewers.
Both ‘News’ and ‘Encore’ are exclusive to DStv despite regulations from ICASA that they should be “must carry” and available to DStv’s rivals (StarSat and Platco Digital).
This sixth channel is being funded by a special allocation of 1.5 billion Rand from government (about $115m) and is expected to feature sport.
The controversy is not helped by the struggle to get this 6th channel when not so long ago that SABC was promising that it would be supplying another 12 or so digital channels on DTT.