SABC takes on rival eNews
The SABC will challenge rival eNews when it launches its own 24-hour news channel next month.
The public broadcaster's group CEO, Lulama Mokhobo, announced yesterday at a hastily arranged press conference that the SABC would also be broadcasting on DStv, the same platform eNews uses for its 24-hour news channel. "We are going to be launching on DStv and the intention is that when digital terrestrial television goes live, we will have the same channel on that space," Mokhobo said.
"Questions have been asked why. It is simply in order for us to increase our accessibility to the public. But also DStv is going to be contributing a substantial amount of money [to] the channel, which will be paid to us monthly over the next five years."
It is unclear which channel number has been allocated to the 24-hour SABC channel, or how much money will be paid to the public broadcaster.
Privately held eNews launched its 24-hour news channel in June 2008, which boasts international news, breaking news reports, sport, weather, entertainment, financial information and current affairs shows.
The introduction of the SABC's own 24-hour channel will increase competition between the two broadcasters.
Mokhobo suggested her team would quickly gain on eNews because of its multilingual news offering.
Mokhobo added: "We haven't worked out the quotas because it is important to gauge the appetite for the languages, but part of delivering to regional expectations will be to deliver news in other languages. But it will be a gradual process - we will be testing appetite as we go along."
Testing on the channel had already begun - Mokhobo said tests ran internally for four hours daily.
The channel will initially have around six hours of "fresh content" a day, which will be looped until it reaches the 24-hour mark.
She said the amount of content being produced by the broadcaster's news department was more than needed, saying only 20% of it was being used.
The eNews channel is also available on the DStv Compact bouquet.
Communications Minister Dina Pule is still to announce a date for the start of the digital switch-on, the price of the decoders that South Africans would have to buy in order to receive a digital signal and how it will be rolled out, especially to low-income households. A subsidy plan was earlier mentioned.
In a separate matter, Mokhobo, who was ordered to submit a medical certificate to prove she was too ill to appear at the disciplinary hearing of suspended head of news and former acting CEO Phil Molefe, said any "aspersions cast" on her ill-health were "just unfortunate".
She said the board was satisfied with her medical certificate and reasons for absence.