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MyBroadband is the largest IT Website in South Africa with 1 million unique monthly visitors, serving the local market with technology and business tech news and the largest online community in the country.

Netflix looking for business partners in South Africa

Netflix is excited to see the rollout of fibre networks in South Africa and is looking for business partners to increase the accessibility of streaming video platforms.

The company told MyBroadband it cannot disclose regional subscriber numbers, but it is happy with South Africa’s growth.

“Globally, we have over 109 million subscribers and this year, for the first time, our international subscribers surpassed our domestic member base,” said Netflix.

Since its global launch in January 2016, Netflix has seen a healthy growth in South Africa and it is looking to invest more in the market.

“We are learning more and more on what South Africans like to watch and since 2016, we have tripled the catalogue – which will only continue to grow as we learn more.”

“South Africans can look forward to tonnes more content coming their way.”

Original content

Netflix said it spent $6 billion on content in 2017, and going into 2018 it will spend upwards of $8 billion.

“We have launched over 450 originals in 2017, and in 2018 we will have over 600 originals,” said Netflix.

“We know that South Africans love comedy and action content, such as the Marvel series, so we hope to bring you much more of the content you love.”

It is also ramping up its film efforts in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in 2018, said Netflix.

Applications for new digital pay TV channels open

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has opened applications for broadcasters to apply for multiplexer 3 digital terrestrial television spectrum.

ICASA issued an invitation to apply for this spectrum in September 2015, but did not issue the license.

MultiChoice launched its digital terrestrial pay TV service (GOtv) in South Africa during February 2016. A GOtv Value package is R99 per month, while GOtv Lite is R45 per quarter. GOtv decoders are listed on its website for R699 once-off.

Invitation to Apply

Multiplexer 3 (MUX 3) is intended for providing additional commercial subscription television broadcasting services, and ICASA has said the successful applicant will be assigned 45 per cent of MUX 3 capacity to launch pay TV services.

Among the criteria to qualify for the spectrum are:

  • The applicant must be a television broadcasting service licensee, as defined in the Promotion of Diversity and Competition on Digital Terrestrial Television Regulations.
  • The applicant must have a minimum of 30 per cent ownership held by historically disadvantaged person(s), or have a level 4 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) status.

Prior to awarding this spectrum licence, the applicant must provide proof of funding to support the proposed launch date. According to ICASA, the licensee must use the assigned radio frequencies within two years of it being granted.

However, the licensee must also inform ICASA on the actual date of launch. Once a launch date has been set, the successful applicant will have two years to roll out 50 per cent of the distribution network for the spectrum it has been licensed.

The successful applicant must also ensure that the appointed signal distributor for its 45 per cent of MUX 3 capacity distributes the remaining 55 per cent to free-to-air TV broadcasters. This must be done without prejudice, through a commercial arrangement.

ICASA said that it will license the additional free-to-air broadcasters who must be given access to the remaining capacity of MUX 3.

The closing date to apply for 45 per cent of MUX 3 to offer pay TV services is 25 January 2018.


Communications minister says set-top boxes won’t be encrypted

Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has stated that state-sponsored set-top boxes will not be encrypted.

According to the City Press, Kubayi-Ngubane said she was unlikely to press for encrypted smart boxes.

“My main concern is that the encryption battle has dragged the whole DTT project,” she said.

The digital migration project has dragged on for years in South Africa, with a fight over whether the set-top boxes should be encrypted or not adding to the project’s woes.

“Yes, in meetings some people in the party prefer encrypted boxes, but the policy is clear. If I were to change any DTT policies now, I must justify the changes, consult the public, and possibly have matters hauled through courts of law. There simply isn’t time.”

South Africa’s latest deadline to complete the digital migration project is June 2019.

This follows former Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo committing to a December 2018 deadline, and South African missing its original deadline of 2011.

The international deadline, as determined by the International Telecommunication Union, was June 2015.

Kubayi-Ngubane’s latest statement comes after reports of MultiChoice allegedly trying to influence the government’s policy on set-top box encryption and multiple legal battles over the production of the set-top boxes.

DStv’s latest subscriber numbers and revenue figures


MultiChoice South Africa has released its interim results for the six months ended 30 September 2017.They show that its subscriber base grew by 278,000 to over 6.5 million.

Its financial performance was flat compared to last year – with core headline earnings at R3.6 billion, and revenue at R19.4 billion.

The company said it continued to invest in local content production, increasing its local entertainment production spend from R950 million to R970 million, and local sports spend up from R630 million to R750 million.

“Subscription and hardware revenue growth were offset by lower MWEB revenues, after its sale in May 2017, and lower content cost recoveries from our African counterparties,” said MultiChoice.

“Higher subsidy costs, higher depreciation, and lease interest due to capitalising the IS20B satellite in September 2016 were offset by content cost savings from strengthening in the rand/dollar exchange rate and targeted reductions in non- performing content.”

MultiChoice generated free cash flows of R2.3 billion, down R1.3 billion from the year before.

MTN in discussions to buy MultiChoice Africa

MTN is in discussions regarding a potential acquisition of MultiChoice Africa revealed industry sources to MyBroadband.

MultiChoice Africa provides video entertainment for subscribers in 49 African countries; services include DStv, Box Office, Catch Up, DStv Now, and AMGO. The company is based in Dubai and currently provides TV services to almost five million customers.

MTN has punted the idea of a diversified revenue stream through digital and entertainment services in recent years, and as part of this play it appointed its former head of strategy, Stephen van Coller, as the new head of digital.

MTN is already in discussions with MultiChoice about providing TV entertainment on smartphones, and according to sources, the network operator is now in talks to acquire MultiChoice Africa from Naspers. It will not come as a surprise if Naspers offloads its pay-TV operations in Africa.

Naspers has a strong focus on investing in technology and Internet companies, which was illustrated by its recent decision to open an office in San Francisco. The decision was made to “sharpen the focus’ of its “Naspers Ventures’ division.

Traditional pay-TV services, like DStv, are under pressure from online streaming services like Netflix and ShowMax. This means that a big Internet player like Naspers may want to exit MultiChoice Africa, which relies on a more traditional business model.

MyBroadband asked MTN about the discussions, but the company said it cannot comment on market speculation. MultiChoice and Naspers sidestepped the question on the potential sale, and instead confirmed it is in discussions regarding a content supply agreement with MTN.

Source: MyBroadband

JustFlicks update

In 2016, JustFlicks launched a subscription video on demand service aimed at mobile users.

Billing was handled through a WASP, charging R1 per day.

The JustFlicks domain is registered to STS, the WASP which took over the Vidi website when Times Media Group shut down its streaming service in February 2016.

JustFlicks has now received approval from the FPB to officially launch the service, it said.

“It is unashamedly targeted at the mass market both in content and price, and includes over 2,000 titles with over 200,000 hours and more to be added monthly,’ said spokesperson Joanne Raphael-Katz.

Raphael-Katz said that content is generally curated by IMDb ratings, with over 1,000 titles on the platform scoring between 6 and 8.

“This means there is a lot of good content to select from. The content is unique and not found on any other platform.’
Technical details

JustFlicks said it will soon add the ability to accept credit card payments and an option to subscribe for a monthly fee of R30.

It is also developing an offline viewing feature which will let subscribers download videos onto their devices.

Currently, JustFlicks supports Android and iOS smartphones, and web browsers on PCs.

There are no immediate plans to support smart TV apps, media players like Apple TV and Chromecast, and video game consoles – although JustFlicks said it is looking into it.

JustFlicks said it uses AES-128 encryption over HTTP Live Streaming for digital rights management, with plans to implement support for Google’s Widevine in future.

Content is hosted independently and delivered through its own content delivery network.

Since it is a predominantly mobile service, JustFlicks said it only supports standard definition streaming. “HD streaming on mobile is too expensive.’

A minimum speed of 1Mbps is required to stream from JustFlicks, with higher speeds providing a better experience.

Source: My Broadband

James Aguma is no longer SABC acting CEO

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has announced that James Aguma is no longer SABC acting CEO, as reported by EWN.

The minister told parliament today that Aguma has stepped down from his position at the company.

Dlodlo said SABC Group Executive for Technology Tseliso Ralitabo has been appointed as acting CEO of the broadcaster.

The move follows Aguma’s recent push to charge South Africans a TV Licence fee for additional viewing devices, such as cellphones, computers, and tablets.

Aguma said the SABC was “budgeting for lower revenue from SABC TV Licences this year’, and wanted to make changes to the Broadcasting Act to “make it mandatory for people to pay a TV Licence for more devices they view content on’.

Source: My Broadband

Digital Entertainment on Demand (DEOD) launches in South Africa

DEOD or Digital Entertainment on Demand offers viewers just that – converged on-demand entertainment with pay-per-view service and linear internet TV service.

In an announcement event held in Johannesburg recently, the managing director of Discover Digital, Stephen Watson said that DEOD will offers its viewers a great variety of the latest TV shows and movie rentals at highly competitive rates.

The launch of the online service streaming comes at an exciting time in South Africa, giving viewers alternative options to NetFlix, Showmax and DStv. DEOD is however not intending on playing small as the new kid in this competitive industry, it already has plans to take its viewing options across the continent through partnerships with regional telecommunications companies and ISPs.

DEOD’s monthly on-demand packages include:

• News – R49
• Sport – R99
• On Demand – R79
• News and Sport – R129
• On Demand and News – R99
• On Demand and Sport – R159
• DEOD Premium – R189

DEOD’s sports packages will comprise of five channels: EDGE Sport HD, Fightbox, Motorvision, Nautical and Sport Skool. While news channels on the package will include: Al Jazeera, Africanews, Euronews, Bloomberg, Russia Today and France24. Move rentals start for as low as R18 for older movies and from R30 for newer releases.

DEOD also has a premium offer, which is a combination of the News, Sport, and On-Demand packages and is available as a weekend (R49) or week-long package (R69).

Apps for the DEOD service are now available for Android and iOS, however the support for Chromecast, Airplay, DEOD media players and major Smart TVs will only be coming later.

Source: MyBroadbrand

Honeymoon will soon be over for Netflix in SA

Netflix has not given its content to the Film and Publication Board for classification, nor has it paid a R795 000 “licensing fee’ for online distribution.

However, “the honeymoon will soon be over,’ said FPB COO Sipho Risiba.
Risiba said it is not only Netflix which is not complying with the FPB Act, but several online distributors.

“There are a number of local content distributors we’ve engaged with and we’re getting an attitude with these people,’ said Risiba.

Legality of the R795,000 licensing fee

Telecommunications lawyer Dominic Cull of Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions said the FPB is acting outside the scope of its powers in requiring Netflix to register as an “online content distributor.’

While Cull said Netflix is an excellent example of online content the FPB should regulate, in requiring a “license fee’ it is acting outside the law which gives it power – the FPB Act.
Risiba disagreed with Cull, saying the licensing fee was gazetted by a government minister.

The FPB is working on revising its tariff structure, but Risiba said they view the tariff process and lack of compliance from digital distributors as separate issues.
Until the revised tariffs are implemented, online distributors have to pay the fees prescribed.

“The R795,000 figure… may not be fair, it may not be reasonable, it may end up not being constitutional, but it is the law currently until a competent court pronounces otherwise,’ said Risiba.

Not just about Netflix

Risiba said we live in a country which has rules, and the FPB has a responsibility to ensure the industry complies with the Film and Publications Act.
The issue is “not really about Netflix’, but about ensuring compliance with the law, said Risiba.

He did not go into detail about the steps the FPB will take against distributors which aren’t complying with the law, but said they have plans to deal with them.
“You shouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow there is litigation against these entities,’ he said.

Source: MyBroadband

e.tv ordered to keep primetime news

ICASA has declined e.tv’s request to stop broadcasting news in prime time.

ICASA spokesperson Paseka Maleka said the request was turned down following e.tv’s application for an amendment to its licensing conditions to drop its prime time news broadcast.

ICASA published a notice about the application on 4 April 2016, inviting stakeholders to comment.

Following discussions between the SABC, e.tv, and ICASA, a public hearing was set for 25 October 2016.

The SABC indicated it may also be interested in having its licence conditions amended so it was no longer required to broadcast news in prime time.
According to ICASA, the SABC did not formally submit an application.

ICASA said it considered sections of the Constitution, the Electronic Communication Act, the ICASA Act, and the position paper for the introduction of the first free-to-air private (commercial) television service in South Africa.

It also considered the regulatory impact of the amendment e.tv requested.
“The Authority has taken a decision to refuse the licence amendment application by e.tv,’ it said.

ICASA said removing the news out of prime time would not be in the public interest, which is a key mandate for the regulator.

Source: MyBroadband

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