Siyaya ready to surf the digital wave

2014-08-10 15:01

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

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 ContentExpress 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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