Finweek English Edition - - Advertising & Marketing -

IN NEW YORK, so I’ve been told, television view­ers have 500 chan­nels avail­able to them. I’ve of­ten won­dered how they can fill the avail­able air­time. Can there pos­si­bly be enough pro­gram­ming in the world to keep 500 TV chan­nels run­ning non-stop? Well, as DStv has demon­strated, the an­swer is re­ally quite sim­ple. End­less re­peats. DStv has a mere 70 or 80 chan­nels, as far as I can tell, and it clearly has dif­fi­culty keep­ing even that mod­est num­ber run­ning. So it re-runs – end­lessly – hoary old BBC se­ries from the Sev­en­ties and even ear­lier, it some­times seems.

Judge John Deed, In­spec­tor Poirot, Morse, that jolly lot from Only Fools and Horses, that other happy bunch from Por­ridge – they keep go­ing round in ag­o­nis­ing cir­cles of bore­dom. I’m prob­a­bly ex­ag­ger­at­ing, but ev­ery time I switch on DStv I seem to find a pro­gramme I’ve seen at least twice be­fore.

Why do they do this? Is it to save money? Or to demon­strate to the reg­u­la­tory pow­ers-that-be that there’s no point in hand­ing out more li­cences to broad­cast­ers be­cause there’s not enough ma­te­rial for the ex­ist­ing chan­nels as it is. If the lat­ter, it seems the wannabe pay-TV sta­tions have al­ready aban­doned the ter­ri­tory. Which merely un­der­lines the re­dun­dancy of reg­u­la­tion. If the reg­u­la­tors had sim­ply left the air­waves open to any­body who wanted to use them – on a first­come, first-served ba­sis – we might have had some com­pe­ti­tion for MNet and DStv. Be­cause reg­u­la­tion served only to de­lay the start-ups, alert­ing MNet/Mul­tiChoice to their plans and giv­ing them time to pre­pare for bat­tle.

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