Millions face SABC blackout

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Millions face SABC blackout

Published on February 29, 2012 with 5 Comments

MILLIONS of Zimbabweans will lose free access to South African TV channels by mid-May after a court closed a signal loophole that had also been exploited by half a dozen other regional countries.
South African TV signal carrier, Sentech, was last week found by the Johannesburg High Court to be “wrongful, negligent and in breach” of its “duty of care” to regional TV channels for failing to encrypt its signal.
Botswana TV channel, eBotwana – a sister organisation to South Africa’s first free-to-air commercial television station e.tv – went to the High Court in Johannesburg last June to challenge Sentech’s apparent reluctance to secure the encryption on its Vivid digital satellite platform.
Sentech, which is state-owned, introduced Vivid decoders for South Africans who could not access its subscription-only terrestrial signal.
But millions of Zimbabweans, Malawians, Namibians, Angolans, Tswanas, Swazis, Sothos and Mozambicans were able to tap into the free channels by buying decoders supplied by two companies – Philibaos and Wiztech.
eBotswana general manager Dave Coles estimated that about 70% of Botswana’s population was watching the pirated SABC channels. This, he said, was “seriously damaging growth in the local broadcast, production and advertising industries through the loss of potential advertising revenue”.
Millions of Zimbabweans forced to watch only the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation TV channel had bought the cheap decoders which allowed them access to three SABC channels and to follow popular programmes such as Generations, Muvhango and Zone 14.
Zimbabweans still can access South African TV channels by subscribing to DTSV through MultiChoice, but few can afford the charges which start from US$10 per month rising depending on the number of channels.
Ambrose Sibindi of the Progressive Bulawayo Residents Association explained that it was easy to watch South African channels for free due to the signal loophole.
“People were buying the satellite dishes and the decoders, then get someone to connect it for them. In an instant, they had access to SABC 1, 2 and 3 although it was harder to get the sports channels,” he told the Voice of America’s Studio 7 last night.
Sibindi blamed the ZBC’s “monotonous” programming for millions of the city’s residents switching off to find alternatives.
He added: “The ZBC unfortunately became the mouthpiece of Zanu PF. You watch the news on ZBC and it’s the same thing repeated for two to three days, and the people naturally started switching off.”


He said the court ruling in South Africa could see a small fraction of those illegally tapping into the South African channels subscribing to DSTV, but said a large majority would be unable to due to the prevailing economic climate and low wages.
Sentech – which now faces a damages claim from eBotswana – must take “all reasonable steps necessary” to ensure that viewers in the region are prevented within three months, from pirate viewing of the SABC channels carried on the Vivid platform, according to the Johannesburg High Court ruling.
Sentech has the right to apply to the court for an extension provided it can show “good cause” why it such an extension would be justified.

 

5 Comments

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  1. It is a good idea so that Zimbabweans can put pressure on the state to stop monopolising TV Channels for Znu pf.It is high time Zimbas must call shorts before Tsvangirai become a little Mugabe too.

  2. Shame no sabc which means goin bck 2 shit tv(ZTV) if ù want sabc email me samgweshe@gmail.com

  3. we dont cr away with your SABC we cn do without viva ZANU PF

    • But Mugabe has gone as far as to confiscate rdaois in order to keep the public from hearing their transmissions. His regime has also jammed SW Radio Africa’s signal, forcing them to switch frequencies in order to remain a step ahead of the government. In America, they call this the ‘Fairness Doctrine.’

  4. I think it’s sadly simple: We don’t have the tproos to kick Mugabe over, he’s not a threat to America (or Britain) and the South Africans – who just bought expensive Gripen fighters – aren’t going to do to him what we did to Saddam.And of course, no such discussion of this nature should go on w/o mentioning the pathetic UN that has done NOTHING – get this – NOTHING to deal w/ Mugabe.

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