Telkom Media received a licence to operate a DTH and cable-based pay-TV service in August 2008, but financial limitations held the plans back. Telkom Media’s parent company supplies wired and wireless communications in South Africa, and is 39% state-owned. Telkom was initially backed by US-based SBC Communications (now part of AT&T) from 1997 to 2004.
It has more than 4.5m fixed lines.
Telkom sold its 75% stake in its media division to China's Shenzhen Media in April, after which the name change took place to Super5Media. The 25% (overall) minority stake remains in the hands of VideoVision, WDB Investment Holdings and MSG Afrika.
Barely six months ago Telkom Media was reported to have almost given up on plans to launch a DTH service over South Africa.
Now, with new Chinese owners, the plans have been dusted off.
But the sale has irked the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).
Icasa is now investigating whether all conditions were met before it will issue Super5Media with a fresh licence.
Rival service On Digital Media (ODM), backed in part by SES Astra, has lodged a formal objection to the new licence being issued saying Super5Media has not correctly followed the required process. Last week Super5Media laid off about 50% of its staff, despite the company’s assurance that it would launch a service next year.
Super5Media spokesperson Chris van Zyl says the plans to enter the DTH market are progressing well, and continuing under the new owners. "We have met all Icasa's requirements regarding the notification of the sale and transfer of shares in terms of a sales agreement between Telkom SA and Shenzhen Media," he said. "We are of the opinion that we have complied with all regulations in terms of the transaction and therefore have a licence to broadcast.