SIYAYA READY TO SURF THE DIG­I­TAL WAVE

Re­ported Bafana broad­cast deal un­der­pins new kid on the block’s readi­ness to play in the big league

CityPress - - Business - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG de­wald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

The as­pir­ing pay TV group Siyaya seems ready to launch some of its of­fer­ing be­fore the end of the year, us­ing di­rect-to-home (DTH) satel­lite broad­cast­ing.

Siyaya Free to Air TV was one of five new broad­cast­ers that re­ceived con­di­tional li­cences to be pay TV broad­cast­ers from com­mu­ni­ca­tions reg­u­la­tor Icasa in May. The con­di­tion was they all had to, within three months, sub­mit proof they would be able to com­ply with the terms of their li­cences.

This paves the way for an ex­plo­sion of new broad­cast of­fer­ings timed to co­in­cide with South Africa’s switch to dig­i­tal ter­res­trial tele­vi­sion (DTT).

Ac­cord­ing to Icasa spokesper­son Paseka Maleka, all five of the as­pi­rant pay TV broad­cast­ers had sub­mit­ted the ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion by the end of July.

The li­cences are “tech­nol­ogy neu­tral” and the li­censees can, and prob­a­bly will, use both DTH and DTT plat­forms.

That’s now be­ing an­a­lysed and the Icasa coun­cil will soon de­lib­er­ate on mak­ing the li­cences un­con­di­tional.

A deal to take over broad­cast­ing rights for Bafana Bafana games next year, re­port­edly worth R1 bil­lion, has thrust Siyaya into the lime­light, although de­tails about its ac­tual of­fer­ing are still sketchy.

The com­pany, and the con­sor­tium un­der­pin­ning it, is not tak­ing in­ter­views.

Siyaya is 40% owned by the in­vest­ment ve­hi­cle of the Bak­gatla ba Kgafela tribal au­thor­ity, from Moru­leng in North West.

The ex­act share­hold­ing of sev­eral high-pro­file mem­bers of the Siyaya Tele­vi­sion Con­sor­tium un­der­pin­ning Siyaya TV is un­known.

What is known are the share­hold­ers, who in­clude TV per­son­al­i­ties and en­trepreneurs like Dali Tambo, Baset­sana Ku­malo, for­mer SA Post Of­fice chair Vuyo Mahlati, Transnet Freight chief ex­ec­u­tive Siyabonga Gama, Siyaya board mem­ber Aubrey Tau and for­mer SABC1 gen­eral man­ager Leonardo Manne.

Plans to launch its chan­nels on Sen­tech’s Free­vi­sion satel­lite plat­form are afoot, ac­cord­ing to Siyaya’s UK tech­nol­ogy part­ner, Mo­tion Tele­vi­sion.

Mo­tion signed a se­ries of deals with Siyaya last year around set-top boxes, in­clud­ing a video-on-de­mand ser­vice us­ing the UK com­pany’s Con­tent-Ex­press soft­ware. Mo­tion acted as an ad­viser to Siyaya for its ap­pli­ca­tion to Icasa. In De­cem­ber, Mo­tion an­nounced a con­tract with Siyaya, cit­ing the planned launch of Siyaya over the Free­vi­sion satel­lite ser­vice for late 2014.

Since then, Mo­tion struck a deal with the fast-grow­ing Chi­nese man­u­fac­turer of set-top boxes, Shen­zhen Sky­worth Dig­i­tal Tech­nol­ogy, the same com­pany that is help­ing set up a new set-top box fac­tory in the Dube Trade­port in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Man­u­fac­tur­ers in Elec­tronic Com­po­nents (Namec).

Namec wants this fa­cil­ity to build the sub­sidised set-top boxes for South Africa’s roll-out of dig­i­tal ter­res­trial tele­vi­sion, which will hope­fully take place next year.

Mo­tion TV has, ac­cord­ing to its an­nual re­port, signed a roy­alty agree­ment with Siyaya to take a cut of fu­ture video-on-de­mand in­come.

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