Research from Dataxis shows the total number of South African TV households will grow 10 per cent from end-2015 to end-2018 when they will number almost 13.3 million. Over the same time, however, the percentage of TV households relying on Free-To-Air (FTA) terrestrial television services will fall from 48.2 per cent to 34.5 per cent as pay-DTH continues to grow and new pay services using DTT and IPTV come on stream.
According to the report, approximately 43 per cent of TV households will need FTA digital receivers (STB or TV) by end-2016, equivalent to 5.4 million units, if the country manages to turn off analogue television services by then.
Currently there are two FTA terrestrial stations – SABC and e.tv, but the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) recently held public hearings in respect of four applications for FTA TV broadcast licences from Rubicon Investments, Hola Media (backed by Liquid Telecom, the pan-African fibre telecommunications firm controlled by Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Group), Change Network, and Infinity Media (jointly owned by Essel Media, Oakbay Investments and Mabengela Investments) which controls the African News Network (ANN7).
South Africa will have a total of three DTT multiplexes:
– Multiplex One – 85 per cent allocated to SABC for the broadcast of 17 channels. SABC will launch with five channels – SABC1, SABC2, SABC3, SABC News and the repeat channel SABC Encore. The remaining 15 per cent allocated to existing community TV channels
– Multiplex Two – 55 per cent was allocated to e.tv with a possible 11
– Multiplex Three – Up to 55 per cent assigned to one or more commercial FTA broadcaster, and up to 45 per cent to be assigned to one or more commercial pay-TV provider (minimum of 30 per cent ownership held by historically disadvantaged persons and/or a level 4 Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment status).
ICASA has already confirmed a pay-DTT license has been issued to Siyaya TV, with conditional licenses awarded to Close TV, Mindset TV and Kagiso TV.