By Jay Peters for The Verge
Amazon is set to release Amazon-branded TVs as soon as October in the US, according to Insider. The TVs will have Alexa, screen sizes “in the range of 55 to 75 inches,” and will be designed and manufactured by third parties such as TCL, Insider reports. The company is also developing a TV designed in-house, Insider says, but it’s unclear when that might be released.
Amazon already has many irons in the fire with TVs — it partners with Best Buy to sell Toshiba and Insignia TVs that run Amazon’s Fire TV software, offers an AmazonBasics-branded TV in India, and has the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Amazon Fire TV Cube, which you can hook up to your TV. But this rumored new Amazon-branded TV could indicate that the company is stepping up its television efforts to take on TV stalwarts like LG and Samsung more directly.
Amazon didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
By Natasha Odendaal for Creamer’s Media Engineering News
The phased switch-off of South Africa’s analogue television transmitters has started and will continue province-by-province until the end of March 2022, when the last transmitters will be shut off in Gauteng.
The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, together with broadcasters, implemented the phased switch-off in the Free State, starting with Boesmanskop and surrounding towns in the Xhariep district municipality on March 15 and Ladybrand and surrounding towns on March 16.
The switch-off in each province will be systematic and in phases, moving from one analogue transmitter coverage area to the other, until all district municipalities within the province are completed,” said Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
According to the project timeline estimations for the phased switch-off of analogue TV transmitters, the Free State will be switched off in March, followed by the Northern Cape in April, the North West, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape in May, KwaZulu-Natal in July, the Western Cape in November, Limpopo in December and Gauteng in January 2022.
“The department is collaborating with provincial governments and district municipalities to recruit local installers of government-subsidised decoders in order to accelerate the implementation of the broadcasting digital migration.”
“As it is in the interest of the country that the broadcasting digital migration is completed to free up much-needed spectrum, we are redoubling our efforts to accelerate the project,” Ndabeni-Abrahams concluded.
By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband
DStv Now has made a selection of channels available to all South Africans for free.
DStv Now is an online streaming service which is bundled with DStv’s satellite broadcasting service, and allows subscribers to watch TV and shows from mobile devices, smart TVs, laptops, and more.
The new free channel package is available to all South Africans, however, and not only DStv subscribers.
The company said that in response to the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa, a number of DStv Now channels are no longer locked behind a subscription and are available to anyone with an Internet connection.
DStv channels which are now available to stream for free are:
100 – DStv
180 – People’s Weather
238 – SuperSport Play
313 – PBS Kids
320 – Channel O
343 – TBN
400 – BBC World News
401 – CNN
402 – Sky News
403 – eNCA
404 – SABC News
405 – Newzroom Afrika
414 – Euronews Now
Staying informed about the latest news on the virus is the first step in stopping its spread, said the company. For this reason, it has made several 24-hour news channels available.
In addition to these channels, episodes of popular series are also available via the Catch Up portal on the free service, including Igazi, The River, Isibaya, Binnelanders, Suidooster, and Die Ware Naarheid.
The SABC has failed to reach an agreement with SuperSport to broadcast the Rugby World Cup, taking place in Japan later this month.
However, there are alternative ways to watch the World Cup, according to MyBroadband:
- Use an international streaming service, such as Rugbypass and iTV, to watch the 2019 Rugby World Cup
- Watch the games in a social setting like at a friend’s house, a pub or a restaurant
- DStv themselves are offering a special on DStv Premium. The company has reduced the price on the package from R904pm to R750pm
By Joel Hruska for Extreme Tech
Samsung has unveiled a line of concept televisions, including one intended for mobile-friendly content and Millennial buyers. According to the company’s PR, the new model — referred to in an image as “The Sero” and as “The Vertical” in the company’s translated press release — is designed to view content as if it were being displayed on a giant mobile screen.
According to Samsung, the Sero is designed to easily synchronize with mobile devices for screen mirroring, allowing you to project mobile content from your single display over to a TV via NFC for communal viewing. The Sero is also equipped with a 4.1 60W speaker system.
The display is listed as “one model of 43,” which presumably refers to the screen size — but the Google Translated-cost was astronomical, at $16,200. This, however, appears to have been an error, either by GT or in Samsung’s original announcement. The updated price listed on some sites is $1,600, which makes much more sense. I’m not sure it’s a winning price for a 43-inch TV that you can rotate, given the open question of whether people are going to get up and walk across the room to continually rotate the television, but $1,600 is at least believable.
The Sero in a vertical formation, alone.
The other two displays include the Serif and The Frame, a series Samsung has already launched that we’ve discussed before. The Frame TVs are intended to look like pieces of art when not in use and can be set to display various artworks or images to achieve this effect. It’s a nice idea if you’re attempting to achieve a certain invisible aesthetic for your electronics.
Google Translate may have mucked up the translated prices on these displays as well, however, because the listed costs are astronomical for both the Serif and the Frame. The Frame is available in 43, 49, 55, and 65-inch sizes, at a price of 159, 189, 213, or 339 million won, respectively. That’s a price tag of $137,088 to $292,000. The Serif is listed as 159,000, 189,000, or 219,000 yuan, not won. It isn’t clear why the price for only this television is given in Chinese yuan instead of Korean won.
All of these make a lot more sense if we move the decimal back one or two notches. Final prices would be $1,370 to $2,920 (R19 000 to R40 000), or $2,360 to $3,250 (R34 000 to R47 000).
By Laura Bradley for Vanity Fair
If adding a “Skip Intro” button was controversial, it’s hard to imagine the firestorm that Netflix’s latest idea could ignite.
According to a new report, the streaming giant is making a brave new foray into interactive television—and will test the potential format on an upcoming episode of Black Mirror, which is expected to debut a new season in December.
So far, such experiments have been limited to Netflix programming aimed at its youngest viewers. Now it appears the streamer is ready to use the trick more broadly, in a bid to attract new users. But what is this new tactic, really: a fascinating new format or a cheap gimmick?
Per Bloomberg, sources familiar with the initiative say that Netflix is developing multiple specials—television and film—that put viewers in control of their narratives.
One such project is an episode of Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s dystopian sci-fi series that’s made a name for itself examining the dark side of technology and its influence on humanity. Per Bloomberg, several of Netflix’s children’s programs, such as Puss in Book, already feature this choose-your-own-adventure style, allowing viewers to decide a show’s narrative course at various junctures, then go back and choose differently if they wish to explore different outcomes.
The format seems, essentially, like a blend of television and video games—though Bloomberg makes clear that Netflix has no intention to venture more overtly into video-game production.
Whether this new initiative is a boon or a blight on the consumer experience remains to be seen. If executed well, it’ll introduce new sorts of storytelling opportunities, and even more engaging content. If executed poorly, the shtick could feel contrived and unnecessary—and given the continued discussion of the company’s perceived lack of quality control, it’s easy to imagine this criticism being lobbed. Still, to Netflix’s credit, starting with Black Mirror seems like a smart move: Brooker and his team seem, perhaps more than anyone, uniquely qualified to use this technology. They’re also more likely than most to make its employment narratively meaningful. After all, the series has already made a whole, horrific episode about the darker side of video games; why not take that idea to its logical conclusion?
By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband
MultiChoice recently announced the launch of its first channel being broadcast on high-band frequencies, utilising the company’s new DStv satellite it launched in 2016.
The new channel is a Nigerian channel named NTA International, which offers local news, current affairs, and general entertainment.
NTA International may not be accessible for DStv customers with older decoders due to the fact that it is broadcast on high-band frequencies.
Certain older decoders and installations are unable to access content on high-band frequencies, which could prove problematic as new channels come online.
MultiChoice said it was working with customers to upgrade their decoders to support high-band frequencies.
MultiChoice told MyBroadband that while it has no plans to move existing channels to high-band frequencies, new channels which launch on DStv may make use of the high-band frequencies.
“We have no plans to move existing channels to high-band frequencies, as they are already allocated to frequencies on our satellites,” MultiChoice said.
“New channels and services still to be launched may be broadcast from high-band frequencies as that is where additional satellite capacity is available.”
“It also depends on whether existing channels are terminated, freeing up space on low-band frequencies,” the company added.
MultiChoice said that while new DStv channels will not necessarily be launched on high-band frequencies, this is where they will most likely be broadcast.
“New channels and services still to be launched will most likely be broadcast from high-band frequencies.”
MultiChoice has been preparing to broadcast on high-band frequencies since 2016, and has upgraded many customers to installations which support the technology.
“We expect that the vast majority of our customers will be able to continue to enjoy their DStv, including any new channels and services added on high-band frequencies in future,” it said.
There are a number of older DStv decoders which will not be able to view DStv channels broadcast on high-band frequencies.
These include the DStv SD PVR decoder in addition to other PVR and Explora decoders in certain configurations.
“There are also a handful of installation types that cannot receive signals on both high and low-band frequencies,” MultiChoice said.
The models listed below need to be updated to receive both low and high-band frequencies:
DSR 3000 (SD PVR Decoder) in any installation.
TDS865IMC (2-tuner PVR) in an XtraView installation.
Explora 1 or 2 with a twin LNB installation.
TDS850IMC (4-Tuner decoders) with twin LNB installation.
Single cable installations in a multi-unit dwelling or complex with communal dish/distribution.
MultiChoice added that there are relatively few customers who still have these installation types, and the company offers these users “fantastic” upgrade deals which include product installation.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation posted a R977m loss after tax for the 2016/17 financial year, its annual report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday revealed.
The public broadcaster’s net loss for the year ending March 2017 more than doubled from R412m in 2016, following a year of upheaval that included the dissolution of the permanent board in late 2016.
Revenue declined from R8.1bn in 2016 to R7.6bn, representing a 6% year-on-year decrease.
Advertising also dropped 5% to R5.6bn, in a year that saw former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motosoeneng implement the 90:10 local content policy in May.
Sponsorship revenue declined by 18% to R384m, while TV license revenue decreased 7% to R915m.
Operational expenses remained the same at R8.6bn.
The report also said that the SABC had a cash balance of R82m, representing a net outflow of R800m since the previous year.
“The fact that operational cash was used to fund capital expenditure projects, the cost of delivering on broadcaster’s public service mandate and the rising cost of Sports Rights contribute to the pressure being placed on the organisation’s cash reserves,” the report reads.
An interim board was appointed by President Jacob Zuma on March 26, 2017, following a lengthy inquiry process into the broadcaster and Parliament’s approval of 5 names to serve in the interim.
The new board, led by interim chairperson Khanyisile Kweyama, made inroads into turning the beleaguered broadcaster around, and has been praised by both the portfolio committee on communications and standing committee on public accounts.
The interim board’s mandate expires this week. The National Assembly approved a list of 12 names for non-executive board positions on September 5, which only await President Zuma’s approval.
They include all five interim board members.
The 12 are: Michael Markovitz, Khanyisile Kweyama, Mathatha Tsedu, Nomvuyiso Batyi, Rachel Kalidass, Victor Rambau, John Matisonn, Jack Phalane, Krish Naidoo, Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, Dinkanyane Mohuba and Bonbumusa Makhathini.