On 30 September South African parastatal signal distributor Sentech officially launched
Freevision, a revamped version of its former Vivid satellite platform, at a function held in
Johannesburg. Freevision is positioned as a direct-to-home satellite (DTH-S) free-to-air
(FTA) platform that will serve as a gap filler for remote areas when digital terrestrial
television (DTT) is launched in South Africa.
Said Sentech chair Thabo Mongake: “Lots of South Africans don’t have access to FTA
services because the terrestrial broadcasting signal is not available in all areas of the
country due to remote and uneven terrains. An element of the Freevision launch is to
remedy this situation. We strongly believe this launch will enhance the local broadcast
sector and lead to new business.
“Sentech’s DTH-S platform is set to improve the digital landscape. There has been lots
of skepticism around DTT because it has been delayed for several years. Communications Minister Yunus Carrim recently said that government accepts the
responsibility for the delay in the DTT roll-out and is now ready to proceed with the DTT
A Freevision statement reads: The launch of Freevision seeks to ensure alignment of
Sentech’s broadcer vision with its public service mandate obligations and the changing
media landscape brought about by digital convergence. The Broadcasting Digital
Migration (BDM) Police of 2012 provides that the Electronic Communications Network
Services (ECNS) provider for public and community broadcasting services operating on
the DTT Multiplex 1 should ensure 100% reception of these broadcasting services
throughout the country.
The BDM Policy notes that this imperative is to ensure that
citizens in the Northern Cape Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and all areas in South Africa
that are deemed difficult or uneconomical to reach through the DTT transmitter network
are provided for through a DTH-S gap filler platform.
The Sentech broaadcasting signal distribution network architecture is a unique design
that will enable all licensed DTT broadcasters to distribute their services on the DTH-S
gap filler platform without incurring additional operational costs for making their services
available on both the DTT and DTH-S platforms.
Located at 68.50E on IntelSat 20, with an estimated 60 million viewers, it’s the largest
video neighbourhood in Sub-Saharan Africa. Freevision seeks to ensure universal access
to television for all South Africans.
Among the 38 television channels that will be available on Freevision are: SABC1, 2 and
3, SABC News, SABC DTT channels, e.tv DTT channels. Community broadcasters using
the platform include Alex TV, Tshwane TV, Cape TV, Bay TV, Soweto TV and 1 KZN.
There are 21 religious television channels available on Freevision, as well as 18 radio
For more on Freevision see the October issue of the Screen Africa print magazine