TV industry needs a black player – Siyaya
‘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