Astra backing R1bn Sth Africa DTH

Only days after the failure of London-based but Africa-targeted DTH operation GTV, it has emerged that the total funding needed for another DTH project will top 1bn Rand (US$100m) at least. SES Astra is part-backing the project.

Some 18 months ago South Africa’s media regulator ICASA authorised a handful of new entrants to its local broadcasting community, one of which was On Digital Media (ODM). In an interview in a Johannesburg on-line publication Bizcommunity, ODM director Vino Govender says it is making final preparations to enter the tough but lucrative market monopolised by MultiChoice for more than a decade.

“We are still on track and we will deliver according to our plans. We made some minor changes to our model in certain areas; this, however, has had no significant impact on our overall strategy,” Govender said. In August 2008 he had said that ODM will begin broadcasting in June - July 2009. Unfortunately, the company will no longer meet that deadline due to undisclosed reasons. This time, however, he said broadcasting operations would be launched in the third quarter of 2009, according to Bizcommunity.

”But some observers believe that the postponement might have something to do with the current hostile economic climate, which requires that one makes the right decisions now to avoid long-term consequences of bad planning and ‘rush-hour decisions'.” Govender would not be drawn into any debate on the current economic climate, let alone say whether these conditions were affecting ODM's operations in any way. Nevertheless, he said, “Like any other company we continuously evolve our business strategies to accommodate changing market conditions.

“ODM supports the view that people should be spending their disposable income more efficiently during tough economic conditions. These conditions support the opportunity for pay-TV operations to start introducing more flexible packages into the market to ensure that there is no channel wastage in terms of the consumer’s monthly spend.” The report added that ODM says consumers should be given the option to pay for exactly what they want to watch and not the usual one size fits-all package that is available in the market today.