Kwesé Free TV approved for broadcast

A new free-to-air television station has been approved by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Last week Icasa announced that it had awarded a broadcast licence to terrestrial television service Kwesé Free TV. Partially owned by Zimbabwean business mogul Strive Masiyiwa, Kwesé TV is the second free-to-air TV station after, which was awarded its broadcast rights 21 years ago.

Kwese is a Shona word which means “everywhere” and “anywhere”. Kwesé already has a presence in 19 African countries and has been given 24 months to launch its services in SA.

Icasa councillor Dimakatso Qocha said the awarding of the licence followed Kwesé TV’s full compliance with the requirements of the Invitation to Apply issued in February 2017.

Qocha said the licensing of an additional individual commercial free-to-air TV broadcasting service and related spectrum would stimulate competition and increase the variety of broadcasting services available.

ICASA also issued Kwese Free TV with a radio frequency licence in “MUX 3”. MUX 3 is a range of frequencies for digital terrestrial television in South Africa.

The regulator confirmed that the frequencies are not available yet, and will only become available when South Africa completes its migration from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. Currently, the deadline for the migration is set for July 2020.

Kwese has received enough capacity for 1 HD channel and 4 SD channels. ICASA said that the standard terms and conditions of its licences state that the licensee must commence services within 24 months of receipt of the licence.

Kwese will be allowed one extension in terms of the regulation, giving it a maximum of four years to go on air. There is room for it to apply for an exception, however, such as the digital migration being further delayed.