eBotswana recently lodged papers in the Johannesburg High Court regarding an application for an interdict against Sentech, the South African Broadcasting Corporation as well ICASA, to put a stop to the continued piracy of the SABC signal in Botswana.
eBotswana is a licensed free to air terrestrial television station based in Gaborone. It broadcasts both local and international programming to residents in Gaborone and its surrounding areas.
The SABC signal is currently being pirated off Sentech’s Vivid Bouquet with the use of a satellite receiver commonly referred to as the Philibao.
“The SABC is not licensed to broadcast in Botswana,” said Dave Coles, eBotswana TV station’s general manger. “Despite repeated requests to the SABC’s signal distributor, Sentech, to resolve the problem, our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. It is for this reason that we have now taken the matter to the courts.”
The continued piracy of the SABC signal is having a negative effect on the local television industry as a whole in Botswana. Advertisers wishing to target the Botswana market are not buying airtime on Botswana television channels as their commercials are being viewed on the SABC channels across Botswana.
This has a severe impact on the viability of television channels in Botswana, which depend on advertising income for their survival. This, in turn, affects the ability of these television channels to spend money on Botswana local content which is relevant to the Botswana population.
Should Sentech ensure that the SABC signals are adequately encrypted, it can solve the piracy problem speedily. The interdict is aimed at insuring Botswana has a vibrant and strong television industry that is an asset to the Botswana economy and its people.
Sentech has indicated that it will oppose the application for an interdict, and the matter is set down to be heard this month.