PremiumFree: New free-to-air satellite TV service launching in South Africa

eMedia Holdings’ Openview is about to get a challenger in the free-to-air satellite television market with the imminent launch in South Africa of a new service called PremiumFree TV.

PremiumFree has been available in West Africa (Ghana and Nigeria) since late 2018, but is now expanding a 25-channel bouquet of free channels to South Africa after it secured transponder space on Intelsat’s IS20 satellite. In the process, it said, it is now available through an additional 40 million installed satellite dishes.

The broadcasts will begin on 1 May and it claimed on Wednesday that it will be available on more satellite dishes than any other multichannel bouquet in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Broadcasting unencrypted not only means that the service can be offered free of charge, it also means that the channels can be instantly received on dishes and decoders already owned, installed and connected,” said Craig Kelly, CEO of AfricaXP, the company behind PremiumFree TV. “It’s all about instant reach for us and with no extra equipment or cost for the viewer.”

Content on the platform ranges from sport to movies, to telenovelas and kids’ shows, documentaries, drama series, gospel, comedy and reality programming. Kelly said the content is “custom-made for African viewers”, with channels accessed through generic or universal free-to-air set-top box decoders.

Compatibility

Any ‘generic’ or ‘universal’ free-to-air MPEG-4 DVB-S decoder should be able to pick up the channels. “Almost any decoder that is new and available for sale now is likely to work — it does not need a smartcard slot or any encryption system embedded,” the company said.

The service could even work, in theory, on Openview and MultiChoice-owned DStv decoders, though the company isn’t making any guarantees about that. “The operators of these services only include their own channels in their service EPGs (electronic programme guides) on their decoders but there may be ways to manually scan for the PremiumFree channels on these boxes. Updates sent to decoders from these service providers may, however, delete these settings.”

The PremiumFree channels are transmitted unencrypted and other operators are free to include them in their EPGs if they choose to do so. If PremiumFree can’t be accessed on Openview and DStv decoders, then consumers should purchase any low-cost generic or universal free-to-air decoder, remove the LNB cable from their current decoder, and attach the cable to their free-to-air decoder.

“If you have a DStv Explora connected, you will also need to look at the plastic LNB on the middle of your dish and swap the cable from the original smart LNB connector to the other universal LNB connector. Any satellite dish installer can assist you,” the company said.  — © 2021 NewsCentral Media

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