- NOW TV, DSTV deal at risk
- MYSC demands answers from Multichoice South Africa
- MYSC wants NOW TV reinstated on DSTV, but won’t give Btv content they sourced
- MYSC took away its employees from Btv pending conclusion of the matter
The arrival of the recently launched Btv 2 is said to have caused a boardroom brawl between the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture and that of State President regarding the future NOW! TV. The Botswana Gazette is informed that prior to the glamorous launch of the stations earlier this month, there were misgivings between stakeholders.
Some officials at the Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS) suggested the launch being deferred until the next finical year for reasons of resource constraints for personnel and equipment, especially for a 24hour news channel.
However, their suggestion fell on deaf ears and some people were even slapped with suspensions. But there is another issue of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture (MYSC) being peeved by the decision of Btv through the Office of the President (OP) to remove its channel, NOW! TV, from DSTV without the ministry being consulted.
According to information on the NOW! TV website, MYSC established NOW! TV to promote and showcase local talent in the areas of youth empowerment, sports and culture and to grow the Botswana film and television industry.
Content from local producers
The youth ministry is also angry that ‘its’ station was removed from DSTV platforms after it spent millions of pula procuring content from local producers.
Sources say the ministry has already registered its concerns with Multichoice in South Africa “and officials are expected to arrive in Botswana soon to discuss with MYSC which is still contracted to the company.”
It is said the OP approached MultiChoice Botswana about rebranding and was thus able to have NOW! TV removed from the DSTV bouquet.
“In fact, it seems AMinister Tumiso Rakgare (MYSEC) and Kabo Morwaeng (OP) met and discussed the issue but Rakgare never confided in the officials who were at the forefront of starting the youth-oriented TV station,” said a MYSC source.
The Gazette is informed that the fracas has turned nasty and NOW! TV, which has no platform to air, has decided to recall its employees from the Mass Media Complex.
NOW! TV has been housed at Btv inside the Mass Media Complex with access to Btv facilities that include equipment and studios. Officials at MYSC believe this could be the cause of the bulldozing because DBS is under the purview of the OP.
Not backing down
But according to sources, MYSC will not back down and actually wants the matter to reach President Mokgweetsi Masisi if no resolution if found.
Botswana launched new state-owned television stations last week as the country edges closer to full digital transmission.
According to the Director at DBS, Raymond Tsheko, the transition of NOW! TV to Btv 1 presents an opportunity for more content from all ministries that content creators should take advantage of. “NOW! TV was a channel under DBS and was never under the Ministry of Youth,” Tsheko said.
“DBS, which is under the Office of the President, had two broadcasting slots and since we were receiving so much content from the Ministry of Youth, we decided to open a channel for their content and the channel was called NOW! TV.”
“What has since happened is that NOW! TV has been renamed to Btv 1 and we will still obtain content from MYSC just as we do from any other ministry for Btv 1.”
More content needed
“In fact, Btv 1 is now a demand platform because it is a 24hour platform. We are going to need more content than ever before. We have not squeezed any ministry. We want them to produce more. Btv 1 and its sister channels are demand platforms that will need a whole lot of diverse content.
“The introduction of Btv 1 and its sister channels has created job opportunities. We have hired more than 200 freelancers and are going to need even more.”
At the time of going to press, the Minister Youth, Tumiso Rakgare, could not be reached.