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Launch date set for SABC news channel

The SABC plans to launch its 24-hour news channel in September.

The SABC's offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Tshepo Lesole/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Monday announced it was going to start its 24-hour television news channel in September, a move that could see it challenge rival eNews.

Satellite broadcaster DSTV will pay to have the new channel on its system, but it will also be broadcast on terrestrial digital TV.

It is unclear how much the broadcaster will be paid over the next five years.

The SABC's Group Chief Executive Officer, Lulama Mokhobo, said the channel would broadcast in different languages and use news content the corporation did not have space to broadcast immediately.

"At the beginning, we are looking at possibly launching six hours per day. But as we grow, we will rapidly unfold until we hit the 24-hour mark".

But veteran journalist and professor at Wits University Anton Harber warned it would be a hard slog.

"The danger here is that the SABC fills airtime with long, boring speeches by politicians."

The public broadcaster tried to run a 24-hour news channel before, but SABC International was shut down in 2010. The SABC cited a "failure to deliver on projected audiences in line with levels of investments" as a reason for scraping the channel.

It cost an estimated amount of between R60 million and R100 million to cover the channel's operating costs.

Several of the SABC's international bureau's were also closed down.

Privately owned eNews, also available on DSTV bouquets, launched its 24-hour news channel in June 2008. It airs international and local news, sport, entertainment, as well as current affairs shows.

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