Africa’s free TV channel boom

David J. Blanc
By David J. Blanc

David Jerome Blanc has been a member of the reputable Paris-based SNRL (national radio syndicate) for several years. As a radio consultant, he has been instrumental in the setting-up of several radio stations, both digital and traditional, across Europe and Africa. David J. Blanc loves to write about his two favourite pastimes: Technology and Travel. He is a visiting professor at the American University of Paris.

Posted on Thursday, 8 December 2011 12:02

Not so long ago, receiving quality TV in Africa meant subscribing to DStv, a very expensive multi-channel package from South Africa. A large satellite dish (over 2 metres wide) and pricy decoders were also needed.

Then came new satellites, particularly Eutelsat W4 (located at 36 degrees East in the sky), which allowed much smaller and cheaper dishes (less than one meter wide). But they still required a subscription to a service.

Over the last few months, a great number of unencrypted (free) channels have started using these high power beams to cover parts of Africa, particularly the area stretching from Liberia to Nigeria.

On Eutelsat W4 (36°E), Nigerian newschannel CBS and music channel OH TV are available for free, along with a number of French language channels.

From Astra 2 (28°E), Nigerian company Infinity ( currently offers twelve channels each with a different theme, including music, Nollywood movies and African sports.

On that same satellite, viewers are able to receive a Ghanaian package called MultiTV, made up of thirteen channels, along with a number of national public and private services. Viewers also get original programming for the whole family, from cartoons to series and even live soccer from European championships.

The most popular radio stations from Ghana and Nigeria are also available for free.

In Ghana, 150 GHC is now the entry price for the necessary equipment, much less than the normal selling price. This is because MultiTV subsidises satellite receivers and dishes to encourage sales, with the hope of increasing its advertising revenues.

While DStv mostly brings US/UK channels to Africa, those free packages are mainly produced locally, creating a great number of jobs and encouraging local movie and television industries.

Let’s just hope these channels will be able to find the necessary advertisers to stay on the air in a competitive market.

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