South Africa's television service began officially on Monday (5 January) with five hours of non-commercial colour viewing and debts totalling 110 million U.
South Africa's television service began officially on Monday (5 January) with five hours of non-commercial colour viewing and debts totalling 110 million U.S. dollars (55 million pounds sterling).
For the past six months the service has transmitted daily two-hour test programmes in both official languages, English and Afrikaans, to give staff at the 116 million U.S. dollars (58 million pounds sterling) centre in Johannesburg the change to iron our faults and gain experience.
Experts say the studios and equipment are technically among the most advanced in the world. An estimated one million viewers, mostly white, watched the start of the service, which has been planned for the past five year.
The transmission network reaches about eighty per cent of the country's 3.7 million white population. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which controls the service, plans to introduce a television service in several languages for the Republic's 16 million blacks by 1980.
Capital expenditure in the past four years has cost about 110 million U.S. dollars and, as long as there is no advertising, the Corporation's only income will be the $40 (GBP20 sterling) annual licence fee per set.
The first night's viewing included an opening address by Premier John Vorster, the first of an American comedy series involving Bob Newhart, news reports and a locally produced suspense story.
The British Actors' Union, Equity, has banned any material by its members from being shown in South Africa, and the service relies on about fifty per cent locally produced content. Some material is also being imported from the United States.
SYNOPSIS: South Africa's television service opened officially on Monday with five hours of non-commercial colour viewing. The broadcast was the end result of about five years of planning. Two-hour test programmes have been broadcast daily for the past six months for staff training.
The service relies on about fifty per cent local content and the British Actors' Union, Equity, has banned any material by its members from being shown in South Africa. First night fare included news bulletins and American comedy shows.
The service took the air with debts totalling about a hundred and ten million dollars. It will not become a commercial station until nineteen seventy eight and until then will rely on the forty dollar per set annual license fee. It's expected that by then, the production costs will exceed the license revenue by about fifty million dollars. At present, the service reaches about eighty per cent of the country's three point seven million white population.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation controls the service and it plans to begin another transmission in several languages for the country's sixteen million blacks by nineteen eighty. Experts say that the television studios and equipment are among the most technically advanced in the world.