Tue, 16 Jul 2019

Icasa grants Kwese TV free-to-air licence

20 Mar 2019, 13:54 GMT+10

Kwese TV has been awarded a licence to operate the country's new free-to-air terrestrial television service, the Independent Broadcasting Authority of South Africa announced on Monday.

Kwese Free TV was one of the four bidders vying for the licence, and will become the country's second free-to-air television channel after e.tv.

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The service will offer five free channels, including a dedicated 24-hour sports channel, in what is likely to increase competition in the television space. The awarding of the licence came after a round of public hearings by bidders in November 2018.

Icasa said the awarding of the licence "will stimulate competition and increase the variety of television broadcasting services available to South Africans."

Kwese Free TV is 20% owned by Econet Group, one of Africa's leading telecoms companies, founded by Zimbabwean mogul Strive Masiyiwa.

Other shareholders include Royal Bafokeng Metix, with a 45% stake; and Mosong Equities, a subsidiary of Mosong Capital, an entity founded by entrepreneur Moss Mashishi. Mosong has a 35% shareholding.

Kwese is already an established broadcaster and the company has a presence in 19 African countries, with a strong sports offering. Icasa has given it 24 months to launch its services.

During the presentations in November, the company said it would leverage its existing business capabilities to drive the South African operations, including its strong funding capabilities.

Other contenders for the licence were Infinity Media, which had Mzwanele Manyi as its majority shareholder, and other start-up media companies.

The granting of the licence was stalled in 2016, following an unsuccessful round of hearings where Icasa rejected all five applications due to non-compliance with key requirements.

The country's first free-to-air terrestrial broadcasting licence was granted to e.tv 21 years ago.

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