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Start-up broadcaster wants to add cultural flavour to local TV

Nov 22 2018 17:37
Sibongile Khumalo

Start-up broadcasting company Free To Air TV was on Thursday quizzed about how it planned to sustain its business model, which is centred around niche programming and cultural matters.  

The Gauteng-based company argued before the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) that there was appetite for production aimed at youth and women empowerment, including authentic cultural offerings that could be exported internationally.

It further stated that a bulk of its advertising revenue would be generated from online services, as opposed to heavy reliance on traditional advertising streams.

Kwese TV, also one of the applicants, wanted the company to explain if they were confident that the "highly niche" women-focused channel called Omama (Mothers) would be able to generate enough revenue to ensure the business' sustainability.

Kwese also sought further clarity on the funding of the company. However, Free To Air did not divulge its funders, citing confidentiality implications.

"What we are willing to say is that we have secured the required funding," said Percy Mthethwa, Head of Content for the channel formed in 2009.

He referred to prospective funding avenues such as the National Lottery, which he said had shown interest in getting involved in developing emerging business ventures. The mainly young target audience of the company was also flagged as an area of concern, which could potentially affect advertising revenue.

The black-owned company, which is focused on youth development, said it had partnered with the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), which would be used to provide cultural expertise about access to authentic cultural content.

"What is key is authenticity. By going to rural communities, we hope to mine key content," said Mthethwa.

On Friday, Kwese Free TV and Tshwaranang Media are due to make their submissions before the hearings conclude.

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