More free digital satellite TV? Well why the heck not ...

Business

More free digital satellite TV? Well why the heck not ...

Broadcaster eMedia is beefing up its content investment in the free-to-air OpenView platform

Marc Hasenfuss

Good news for TV watchers. Broadcasting group eMedia Holdings – which owns television station eTV and 24-hour news channel eNCA – will pump more money into its fledgling OpenView free-to-air satellite television platform.
Writing in eMedia’s annual report released on Friday, CEO Andre van der Veen said the group would specifically increase its content investment in the OpenView platform in the 2019 financial year.
He disclosed that a news channel would be launched on OpenView during the last quarter of this year and that an Afrikaans block of programming – including news and current  affairs – would also be launched in the first half of the new financial year.Van der Veen noted that while these programmes and channels would be loss-making in the beginning, the initiative formed part of the content that was required to promote set-top box uptake and viewership.
OpenView broadcasts e.tv’s multi-channel offering: eMovies, eMovies Extra, eExtra, eBella and eToonz.
Van der Veen pointed out that OpenView attracted about 3.5% of the television audience in SA with the break-even level estimated to be around 6%.
The annual report disclosed that OpenView (inclusive of the e.tv multi-channel business) generated advertising revenue of R60-million and incurred content costs of R173-million.
Operating costs – including  retail subsidies of R74-million – topped R255-million, resulting in a net operating loss of R367-million (last year: a loss of R395-million).
Van der Veen said OpenView set-top box activations continued to grow at an average of 35,000 per month. He said at the end of March this year OpenView had activated almost 1.15 million set-top boxes (2017: about 780,000).
Van der Veen said the investment by eMedia – which has investment giants Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) and Remgro as major shareholders in OpenView – provided strategic flexibility. “It is part of our plan to address the challenges of the impending digital migration transition.”
Van der Veen said eMedia was pleased that the new Minister of Communications, Nomvula Mokonyane, had adopted an open mind and pragmatic approach to the conversion to digital broadcasting.
“We are optimistic that the department, under her leadership, will manage this transition effectively and choose plans that will enable the transition to happen as expeditiously as possible while limiting the cost … to the fiscus and industry participants.”

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