South Africa’s telecoms operator may have
become synonymous with excessive pricing for broadband and voice
services, but the fixed-line mono­poly has plans to become a one-stop
news, communication and entertainment shop, writes Lloyd Gedye in the Mail & Guardian.

Soon you will be able to turn to Telkom for all your sporting, movie, music, news, communication and entertainment needs.

Telkom’s planned offerings — available through its new offshoot, the R7billion Telkom Media — include flexible satellite television bouquets, a video-on-demand service, a 24-hour news channel with its own staffers and 20 mobile broadcast units, multiple sports channels, television delivered via broadband and other additional web-based content available on demand.

Think of Telkom Media as the ultimate convergence company in a digitising world. It is SABC,, DStv, Supersport, your local video store, your ISP offering broadband access and web content provider rolled into one.

Telkom Media is Telkom’s strategy to combat dwindling voice revenues, and is in line with moves by international telcos who have positioned themselves as “triple play” operators in the search for new revenue streams.

A “triple play” operator delivers voice, broadband and video services straight to your home for one monthly sum.

Earlier this week, acting Telkom CEO Reuben September appointed Telkom’s chief of corporate affairs, Mandla Ngcobo, as the CEO of Telkom Media.

“Telkom Media is born out of the notion that voice revenue is dwindling,” says Ngcobo. “The idea of Telkom Media is to own the home, to own all the entertainment in the house through a triple-play package, a one-stop shop.”

Telkom Media’s chief of strategy and operations Rikus Matthyser says it has identified a huge gap in the pay-TV market.

“We have identified that 75% of households in South Africa have TVs, yet only 11% of those use DStv,” he says. “So 64% of the TV-owning market doesn’t have access to paid TV.

“We believe it is on the basis of two criteria. One, that the programming is not suitable for that middle market and, two, that pricing in the market is out of the reach of middle-income earners,” says Matthyser.

Telkom Media’s answer was to design a bouquet of 15 channels that middle-income consumers can subscribe to for less than R100. Matthyser says its research shows that this should make pay-TV affordable for another 40% of South Africans.

Click here to read the full report, posted on the M&G Online.