The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has asked interested parties to to submit applications for digital mobile television licences.There are two multiplexes set aside for mobile TV, with each capable of taking up to 12 TV channels, depending on the technology that will be used.
The regulator is racing against time to issue mobile-TV licences in time for the football World Cup tournament starting on June 11. Interested parties have three weeks to submit their applications to Icasa. “In terms of the current process, capacity in the first multiplex will be auctioned to the current broadcasters; and to ensure competition and diversity, no applicant shall be allowed to hold more than 60% of the multiplex with 20% as a minimum,” the regulator said.
The mobile TV licences will be offered on “a technology-neutral basis”. Operators can use different technologies to provide the services in order to “encourage innovation and investment”.
The second multiplex will be licensed as soon as Icasa decides on the opening of the pay-TV market to new entities.
MultiChoice, which has been testing the mobile-TV technology by streaming some of its existing pay-TV content to cellphones for the past three years in conjunction with cellphone operators, is planning to apply for a licence. Its parent company, Naspers, said last year it had set aside ZAR98 million (€9.8 million) for mobile TV, which it has already launched in Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Namibia.