Cape Town - Digital radio entrepreneur Tbo Touch, whose real name is Thabo Molefe, says he is ready to replace the "Gupta-news" channel ANN7 that MultiChoice is dumping from its DStv satellite pay-TV platform at the end of July.
Earlier this week MultiChoice announced that it won't be renewing its contract with ANN7, now owned by Mzwanele Manyi's Afrotone Media Holdings after the Guptas offloaded their often derided and mistake-filled channel to him last year.
ANN7 has been competing with SABC News and eMedia Investment's eNCA (DStv 403) as local TV news channels both carried on DStv. The other satellite TV services, StarSat and OpenView HD (OVHD) carry no local TV news channels. StarSat, that started out as TopTV, said before it's launch in 2010 that it would start and carry a local TV news channel but then backtracked on the decision and said the costs of starting and running a 24-hour TV news channel is too expensive.
eNCA commands over 50% of the total TV news audience share, with all the other news channel combined having to share the rest of the 50% of viewers who tune to watch TV news. SABC News has around 24.5% of the news viewership, with ANN7 sitting with a paltry 13.6%. Interestingly MultiChoice pays ANN7 more despite its barely there ratings, than eNCA that's the most watched TV news channel among the local and international TV news channels combined.
At MultiChoice's press conference earlier this week where the company announced that it's axing ANN7, MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela said that MultiChoice will be replacing ANN7 with a new majority black-owned local TV news channel.
Linear TV news channels are notoriously expensive to set up and run as one of the second most most expensive TV genres to broadcast besides sport - and doesn't make any significant profit, with channels that take years to turn profitable, if ever. Even internationally seen TV news channels that are considered successful and "prestige" projects are essentially failures if you ask a chartered accountant - Sky News (DStv 402) from pay-TV operator Sky in the United Kingdom is for instance a loss-making operation and has been for years.
Tbo Touch however thinks he can make it work where ANN7 failed and where the SABC with its first try at a TV news channel - SABC News International that failed and that was also shuttered by DStv - struggled to find success.
On social media Tbo Touch that runs Touch HD, said he "submitted my bid for the 24-hour news channel" and that his plan is to do a news channel that provides "news from a black millennial perspective". Tbo said he's waiting "patiently" for a call from MultiChoice's boss, saying Calvo Mawela's "got both [my] numbers".