Can free satellite TV services like OpenView get an operating licence in Zim?

Valentine Muhamba Avatar
OPenView HD, Openview TV, OpenView On-demand, licence

Free-to-air satellite service OpenView yesterday said that it would start blocking decoders that are outside of South Africa. The reason they cited was that they are only licenced to operate in SA. OpenView also said that it would be expanding to other African countries at a later date which we assume will mean that it will be obtaining operating licences in the various regions.

Currently Openview has a license to only operate in South Africa. Meaning, we are not authorized to extend our service outside the borders of the Republic of South Africa. We are hoping to expand to other African countries at a later stage, but at this point we are more focused on growing our South African Viewership.  For now we have taken a decision to block decoders being used outside our legal jurisdiction.


However, there is a problem… How will OpenView get an operating licence in Zimbabwe? If you go on the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe’s (BAZ) website under licencing you’ll see that there is no licencing structure for free-to-air satellite services like OpenView.

Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe Licences

The BAZ has the following licences listed on its website:

  • Commercial Broadcasting Service
  • Community Broadcasting Service
  • Subscription Satellite Broadcasting Service
  • Subscription Cable Broadcasting Service
  • Open Narrowcasting Service
  • Data Casting Service
  • Roadcasting Service
  • Railcasting Service
  • Webcasting Service
  • Content Distribution Service
  • Video On Demand (VOD)

The licence the best aligns with what OpenView does is the Subscription Satellite Broadcasting Service Licence. But we all know that OpenView isn’t subscription-based their revenue is primarily from advertisers. So all you need to do is buy your decoder, get an installer to put it up for you and that’s that. That licence is the one that Multichoice DStv is on because they are a satellite broadcaster that has a subscription-based business model.

Additionally Multichoice has to get a Content Distribution Service Licence which is described on the BAZ’s website as:

Content Distribution Service means a service provided by a content distributor comprising content aggregated within and outside Zimbabwe that is made available in Zimbabwe with or without payment of a subscription fee and the reception is through satellite

From that description, this is probably the licence OpenView would be best suited for but there is another problem. To the best of my knowledge, OpenView doesn’t have content that is both aggregated within and outside of Zimbabwe. This means that it and other free-to-air satellite services like Premium TV will need their own bespoke licence.

Customer touchpoints

Another thing that the BAZ might need for OpenView to operate in the country like all other operators, is a customer service centre that is specific to Zimbabwe. Multichoice for instance has a whole Zimbabwean division that deals with local customer queries.

If OpenView is to come to Zimbabwe “legally” then it stands to reason that it will need to invest in a local resource centre(s) for its customers.

BAZ seemed to not have a problem with OpenView

As far as I can tell (and you are free to correct me if I am wrong) the local authority never really had an issue with OpenView. Since it had no way of classifying it under its licences. And the fact that it was simply down to the person buying their decoder and putting faith in the system working. This withdrawal by OpenView might be more to do with issues on its end.

What I mean by that (and we are going into the realm of speculation) is OpenView might no longer be allowed by either the South African regulator and/or the channels it hosts, to beam that content outside its borders. This means that it’ll need to get permission from the rights-holders to service other countries.

That being said, if it gets the green light then is a local operating licence in Zimbabwe even necessary? Things could just go back to the way they were…

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  1. Anonymous

    They will expand Officially to Countries like Lesotho. .. Botswana…. Namibia .. Zambia…. Malawi. .. Mozambique. .. Zimbabwe is too difficult to deal with. . What about all the Free church channels and host of others do they have a licence to operate in the Southern Region? No.. I really think Techzim are getting so deep into OV & are writing nonense.

  2. Tapedza

    There is no way OV can restict its content to SA only in my simplistic opinion. 1. They beam on the IS20 satelite which covers most of the SADC region and beyond 2. All decoders are registered with an SA number 3. No harm in getting an extra +/- R500m from 1m decoder sales to the region 4. Their advertisers get free extra coverage to the region making it easier to expand their brands. 5. They are providing better alternative content to repressed countries. Maybe a guru can enlighten me on my simple points.

  3. Bhaka

    You are correct there its not possible to block decoders being used outside of SA unless they have a way of telling which ones are being used outside their boarders which is not possible.

  4. Figs

    If they want to, they can reduce the digital footprint coverage, lucky viewers may be those on the outskirts of zim.. The greatest advantage of digital signals Is with the correct update, each deco can even sell out its location data jus as it gives its current viewing channel data which they use to rate channel viewership. Such an upgrade would then allow for out of boundary setboboxes to be redirected to a blank channel or no signal or other error msg, the best alternative or may be to halt on system upgrades of the settop boxes as one of these security or feature update will surely come up with this, unfortunately most of these new set tops upgrade automatically

  5. Tynash tynash

    It is not ok

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