South Africa’s media and communications regulator ICASA has granted a commercial free-to-air TV license to Kwesé Free TV.
The regulator said that Kwesé Free TV’s service complied with the appropriate South African laws and met a market need. It also judged that the outfit’s business plan and means of financial support were adequate and that the group had the know-how and experience necessary to run a broadcasting business.
Kwesé also seized a related radio frequency spectrum license giving it 55% of the country’s third digital multiplex.
The granting of the license gives way for Kwesé to propose a bouquet of channels with sport and general entertainment content.
The award of the license to Kwesé Free TV comes despite the collapse of Kwesé TV, the pan-African satellite TV service owned by Econet Media, one of the Kwesé Free TV JV partners.
Kwesé Free TV is 20% owned by Econet South Africa, with Royal Bafoteng Metix owning a 45% stake and Mosong Equities holding 35%.
The regulator made the award in the face of opposition from public broadcaster SABC, which complained that the award of additional third multiplex capacity could offer a seamless digital migration. ICASA said it was still of the view that licensing an additional individual free-to-air commercial broadcaster would offer more competition and add to the variety of TV services available to the country’s citizens.