New sub-Saharan Pay TV service to broadcast in 18 African countries
May 22 2007

With probably over US$100 million in its purse, a new Pay Tv company later in the month of June begins beaming its programmes in the five East African countries before rolling out to 13 other African countries in an ambitious project. by Phillip Nabyama The direct-to-home, satellite-based Pan-African pay-TV, GTV, a subsidiary of UK's Gateway Broadcasting Service will be available from June 22, with a phased roll-out across sub-Saharan Africa.

Its signal, according to Mr. Daniel Kagwe the general manger for Uganda is currently being tested with four channels.

"Our aim is to demystify Pay Television and it is still too early to put a final cost to the project," is all a guarded Kagwe could tell Business Week a fortnight ago when asked about the cost of the project.

The $100 million given by industry experts however, is a conservative figure required to set up such an ambitious project in 18 countries.

Viewers will have access to major international channels as well as GTV's own channels screening news, sports, movies, popular series, music, and religious content.

Statistics show that in Uganda, of the 600,000 households with televisions, only 12,800 subscribe to a satellite service.

With the roll out of the second service provider, Ugandans who pay about $499 (Ush838,320) for a decoder and other items required to access Multichoice Uganda's (Pay Tv pioneers in the country) varied programming and another $71.24 (Ush120,000) as monthly subscription will now have a second choice.

It is obvious that GTV's entry into Uganda will check the Multichoice Uganda monopoly in the Pay TV market it has enjoyed over the last decade.

With an advanced and efficient delivery platform (GTV will be delivered across Gateway's satellite infrastructure), according to the company, will substantially reduce the cost and ease of set-up for customers.

Without mentioning competitors, a carefully worded company statement issued from the Uganda office said, "Challenging existing services, GTV will significant drop entry level pricing and boost customer service, providing real value for money. GTV will be a natural choice for Ugandans previously limited to viewing national free-to-air television stations." Like pioneers Multichoice in Uganda, subscribers, like else where will be required to acquire a decoder, smartcard and a dish to access the numerous international channels as well as GTV's own channels created especially to satisfy local tastes.