A team of roguish space cowboys offering a free digital satellite
service is planning to take on the Independent Communications Authority
of SA (Icasa), claiming “they cannot do anything to stop us”, writes Thom McLachlan in The Weekender.

Free2View, a UK-based satellite television service broadcasting from Paris into s ub- Saharan Africa is breaking the rules with wil ful abandon, raising questions about whether regulation can keep up with the pace of technology.

The company, which recently announced it had secured the rights to air US news channel MSNBC, plans to grow its list of channels to 36 over the next three years. But it does not hold a broadcast licence in SA, a move Icasa believes will cost them.

“We are bringing content to a continent that has been starved of it and we’re going to do it free, without having a piece of paper that (we) couldn’t acquire even if we tried,” said Free2View chief operating officer Elissa Wilding.

Icasa said it had a variety of options it could follow to stop Free2View from offering its service, including obtaining a court interdict to stop the illegal activity. The regulator said on Friday that Free2View would be acting in contravention of the Electronic Communications Act.

“Any entity that intends to provide a broadcasting service intended for receipt within the borders of SA requires a licence issued by Icasa. Any attempt to provide such a service constitutes a criminal offence … the authority has mechanisms in place to deal with such circumstances,” it said.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Weekender website.