TV in­dus­try needs a black player – Siyaya

CityPress - - Business - S’BUSISO MSE­LEKU sm­se­leku@city­

‘It is very im­por­tant to have a black player in the tele­vi­sion in­dus­try in this coun­try.” This was the open­ing re­mark of Siyaya TV ex­ec­u­tive chair­per­son Vuyo Mahlati as we sat down for an in­ter­view this week.

Siyaya was one of five com­pa­nies granted pro­vi­sional sub­scrip­tion broad­cast­ing li­cences by the In­de­pen­dent Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity of SA (Icasa) in April. The com­pa­nies had ap­plied for pay-TV li­cences in 2012 and had par­tic­i­pated in Icasa’s pub­lic hear­ings last year.

They had all re­port­edly sup­plied Icasa with the re­quired doc­u­ments by the end-of-July dead­line, but Mahlati said Siyaya TV was the only one that had been “ap­proved for fund­ing avail­abil­ity based on the in­for­ma­tion and doc­u­ments we pro­vided”. Siyaya TV has been in the spot­light since City Press re­ported two weeks ago that it had en­tered into a R1 bil­lion, six-year broad­cast deal with the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion for ex­clu­sive rights to games, in­clud­ing Bafana Bafana matches.

Mahlati said the com­pany’s busi­ness model had a strong fo­cus on women – as did Bak­gatla ba Kgafela. “This was one of the rea­sons we teamed up with them,” she said. The North West tribe ended up with a 40% share in the com­pany. “From the on­set, we aimed at start­ing a 100% black-owned com­pany and hav­ing a ru­ral com­mu­nity as share­hold­ers.” The ini­tial ne­go­ti­a­tions in­volved three com­mu­ni­ties: Bak­gatla, one around the Kumba re­gion in the North­ern Cape and one in Lim­popo.

“We made our pre­sen­ta­tions and they made theirs,” she said.

“We were im­pressed with the Bak­gatla ba Kgafela pre­sen­ta­tion.” A few of the rea­sons that won Bak­gatla the share­hold­ing were:

It was a spe­cific com­mu­nity con­cen­trated in one area; It owned land over which there was no dis­pute; It had a clear com­mu­nity devel­op­ment pro­gramme and vi­sion; and

It par­tic­i­pated in on­go­ing cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties. Mahlati’s in­sis­tence on a part­ner­ship with a ru­ral com­mu­nity was driven by her back­ground as a spa­tial devel­op­ment man­ager at the Devel­op­ment Bank of South­ern Africa.

Be­sides the Bak­gatla – who are rep­re­sented by Kgosi Nyalala Pi­lane – the other share­hold­ers are Mahlati, for­mer SABC2 gen­eral man­ager Thandi Ra­math­e­sele, TV per­son­al­ity Dali Tambo, Transnet Freight CEO Siyabonga Gama and se­rial en­trepreneur Aubrey Tau.

Mahlati pointed out that Tau, a for­mer Moroka Swal­lows pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer and African Soc­cer TV boss, thought up the idea of Siyaya TV. He brought all the other share­hold­ers to­gether.

Mahlati and Tau spent long pe­ri­ods over­seas dur­ing the re­search phase. She said com­pa­nies that had tried to en­ter the in­dus­try and failed had pro­vided valu­able lessons for Siyaya TV.

“Sus­tain­abil­ity is im­por­tant, hence our sub­stan­tial re­search that re­sulted in this busi­ness model. We have also kept our over­heads min­i­mal in this prelaunch phase,” she said.

The man­age­ment team has a sig­nif­i­cant fe­male pro­file with Mahlati as chair­per­son, Ra­math­e­sele as CEO and Shoki Mohlala as chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer.

Mahlati has a PhD from the Univer­sity of Stel­len­bosch.

Her the­sis fo­cused on the role of value chains in main­stream­ing ru­ral en­trepreneurs into global mar­kets.

WIN­NER Siyaya TV’s ex­ec­u­tive chair­per­son Vuyo Mahlati

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