State-owned South African broadcasting giant, Sentech, and e-Botswana’s legal battle is far from over and is still on as e-Botswana is reportedly suing for about R8 million in damages for loss of revenue.
According to e-Botswana, the legal process is still in the hands of their lawyers and the South African courts. The local broadcaster also said they are still waiting for their lawyers and, afterwards, a court date will be announced.
In an interview with Sunday Standard on Friday, e-Botswana General Manager, Dave Coles, showed a clear belief that Sentech will be punished.
“Yes, we are persistent. We are going to sue them for loss of revenue…we calculated and the sum is around R8 million,” he said.
Coles added that, over the years, Sentech had robbed them of their financial benefits. He said e-Botswana was failing to make profit in advertising because advertisers targeted the Botswana market through the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) channels that used free-to-air decoders. He said this curtailed e-Botswana’s business as it is heavily dependent on advertisers.
Although the exact figures could not be established by The Sunday Standard, observers say that SABC must have benefited as some media reports said most multinational companies dumped e-Botswana for the more regionally popular SABC. On the other hand, multinational companies trading in this country and in South Africa made a killing out of getting free adverts to locals who could access SABC channels.
It was a matter of killing two birds with one stone as they paid for advertising to SABC and also got their messages for free to the Botswana markets via free to air decoders.
With SABC gone and advertisers now seeing the urgent need to buy airtime or space in local media houses, Coles said more revenue will be harvested by the local businesses in the media industry.
Coles said it is going to be a long process for them to start noticing financial benefits but “a response is coming as some big advertisers are now coming forward”.
The e-Botswana General Manager also said they are still in talks with the Botswana Communications Regulations Authority (BOCRA) and, depending on their response, hopefully in a few weeks, e-Botswana will be able to go from terrestrial to digital broadcasts “and expand our reach”.
This means it would be via satellite and much better picture quality.
The other new development is that Multichoice (DSTV) is currently studying e-Botswana’s proposal to see if it will profitably correlate with the DSTV business model, said Coles.