Free2vieW: South African regulator says new free broadcaster is illegal
Monday, January 28th, 2008
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) warned on Friday that it could block Free2View’s satellite signal, or take other action, if the UK-based free-to-air broadcaster continued operating without a licence. Free2View launched its satellite broadcasting services last week. It will provide consumers with access to a variety of channels, such as live news programmes and documentaries, for free. Consumers will only make a once-off payment for a decoder and a satellite dish.
Icasa, which regulates the broadcasting and telecoms sectors, has not issued Free2View with a licence or permission to operate. Any entity that plans to provide a broadcasting service in South Africa requires a licence and any attempt to provide such service without one constitutes a criminal offence, Icasa said. If Free2View continues operating, Icasa could approach the court for an interdict to stop its operations.
Elissa Wilding, the chief operating officer of Great Media, the owner of Free2View, said the company was operating legally as its channels were linked directly from the US. Currently, Free2View provides MSNBC, a US-based news channel. Wilding said Free2View would not have to wait for Icasa to finalise its free-to-air regulations - a process Wilding believed would take about eight years - as this would deprive the local market of fundamental programmes such as education.
Icasa plans to develop a framework for free-to-air broadcasting in the next two years.
“When the majority of Africa lives on a dollar a day, pay-TV is fundamentally flawed,” Wilding said. She added that the Free2View platform had been developed to engage, entertain and empower consumers and communicate the advantages of digital TV by making it free, simple and inclusive.
Free2View will compete with e.tv, the licensed free-to-air provider, and new pay-TV licensees such as Telkom Media, On Digital Media and Walking on Water.
Wilding said that with the recent flood of pay-TV operators, South Africans would find the digital TV landscape to be a “confusing and complex place”. The decoders which enable Free2View services are available at retail stores. Free2View will increase its channels to about six next month and 36 in the next 18 months, Wilding said.
(Source: Business Report)
Such a thing sould never be let to happen,they dont know from were to rip off money from the poor people of Africa, booooooo ! ! !
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