Government is under pressure to shut Botswana Television (BTV) off the air waves in order to meet conditions set by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) as prerequisites for being granted the rights to air the World Cup games due in South Africa in June 2010.
This followed an urgent meeting held at the Mass Media Complex after authorities received a response to BTV’s request by FIFA to cover World Cup games, which categorically stipulated that the local television station must immediately stop the spillover of its programmes in several countries in the Southern African
region if it is to be considered.
A source in the Government enclave intimated to The Telegraph that Multichoice was accordingly instructed to shut the BTV channel off their satellite dish.
Billy Sekgororwane, Chief Executive Officer of Multichoice, played down the Btv shut down issue.
“Look, I am sorry I can’t help much on the issue, in fact, I d rather you direct the question to the management of the station and they should be better placed to comment as it concerns them,” said Sekgororwane.
However, efforts to establish Government’s position hit a snag as Dr Jeff Ramsay, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President, was not committal when asked by the Telegraph.
“Well I am only aware there are issues being discussed but as at now I do not have specific information relating to possible closure of the television,” said Ramsay.
Currently, BTV is accessible in parts of Zambia, in Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique as well as in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.
Apparently, in the past, it was widely reported elsewhere in the media that Btv’s failure to code its signals resulted in an uncontrolled spillover into the region where people are able to access its programmes using the Dstv.
What made the issue even more problematic was the fact that Government was paying huge amounts of money in rental for the satellite space but The Telegraph learns that the space was seriously underutilized.
The decision to ask Multichoice to shut down Btv from its satellite dish, according to a source who confided in the paper, followed a breakdown in the talks between Government and Multichoice, after the latter’s proposal to pay for the rented satellite space and grant Btv a signal within their spectrum was denied.
“It would appear that Multichoice’s argument was that since Btv was underutilizing their space, it would be less costly for them to use a signal from Multichoice while the latter takes care of the costs,” said an interested source.
Should the shut down, the first phase stage of which was scheduled to be carried out without announcement on Monday or Tuesday, it would only be through aerials and Philabaos that people could access Btv. Thereafter, which should also certainly be before the World Cup games, Btv would be expected to have encrypted their signals so that it requires a decoder to access.
The idea of the whole exercise is reportedly so that the airing of the games is properly regulated.