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MULTICHOICE TO START OPENTV NEXT MARCH

By | August 1, 2001

      Chris Forrester, Editor

      Multichoice South Africa will introduce a comprehensive OpenTV-based interactive service on its digital platform next March. Viewers will be able to send and receive e-mail, shop and play games on a television set. MIH, which owns Multichoice, says its iTV service could be extended to include online banking and a wider range of shopping facilities. According to local reports, Multichoice’s South African digital business base has grown strongly by 30 per cent year-on-year, however, overall subscriber numbers in Africa have flattened as low margin analogue subscribers have churned.

      MIH, via its Mindport subsidiary, is also the controlling shareholder of OpenTV, which declared strong Q2 results last week with revenues doubling year-on-year from $11.3m to $22.8m. Losses were also up, on a pro-forma basis, its net loss was $4.1 million for the quarter ended June 30 compared to a pro-forma net loss of $3.3 million for the same period last year.

      At present, OpenTV says its software has been shipped with or installed in more than 16 million digital set-top boxes worldwide and has been selected by 44 digital cable, satellite and terrestrial communications networks in over 50 countries, including BSkyB in the UK; TPS and b in France; PrimaCom in Germany; Via Digital in Spain; Stream in Italy; DirecTV Latin America and Echostar’s DISH Network.

      MIH also owns a majority stakes in NetMed in Greece, Multichoice Egypt and has ‘large’ minority holdings in UBC Thailand. MIH/Mindport also owns Dutch based Irdeto Access encryption technology company.

      MIH Revenues 2000-2006 (US$m)*
      Africa subs revenues
      394.6
      395.7
      424.3
      439.8
      451.6
      464.5
      473.9
      Decoder sales/ad-sales/misc
      92.4
      78.4
      68.7
      66.0
      67.5
      67.1
      67.8
      Mediterranean subs rev’s
      114.1
      112.9
      144.5
      166.4
      190.3
      212.7
      229.5
      Decoder sales/ad-sales/misc
      30.9
      36.2
      36.1
      38.0
      41.5
      44.4
      47.5
      Internet
      0.6
      9.1
      16.4
      32.0
      58.0
      100.1
      146.1
      Technology
      59.9
      66.4
      88.0
      121.5
      149.2
      180.9
      217.8
      OpenTV
      31.0
      74.6
      110.9
      157.5
      228.2
      306.3
      379.4
      TOTAL
      723.4
      773.3
      889.0
      1021.1
      1186.2
      1376.1
      1562.0
      *Year-end March in each case
      Data: Merrill Lynch, Media Handbook 2001


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