Perhaps his biggest achievement since his appointment, last Thursday the Minister of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng finally launched the much-anticipated youth TV channel, NOW!
Three years and P10 million in the making, the time is indeed NOW! for local production houses and film makers to show their worth.
The channel will broadcast only local content and offers a variety of genres ranging from sport, comedy, talk show, drama, soapies and documentary.
Thursday’s launch came with a red carpet event at a packed-to-capacity Molapo Stanbic Bank Piazza and was graced by familiar faces from the entertainment industry, including actors, actresses, singers and influencers.
Whilst the introduction of the second channel is an exciting development for the local film industry, the launch was slightly soured by the announcement it will only air for four hours a day.
Critics have also suggested the launch was rushed in order to be completed before the 1st of April, when a new President assumes power and a cabinet reshuffle is expected.
Indeed, there is a possibility that Olopeng himself may be shifted to a different Ministry or pushed out completely – hence his apparent eagerness to rush the project’s launch.
Another contentious point is NOW!’s restricted availability, which Olopeng ruefully admitted could hinder the project’s success.
“The Channel is broadcasting throughout Botswana on the Digital Terrestrial Platform, which requires an ISDB-T Set-top-box. I am aware of the limited availability of the set-top boxes in the market currently,” he said.
Attempting to put a positive spin on the problem, the Minister concluded by saying, “This remains a business opportunity for entrepreneurs to service the Television market in Botswana. The Channel is available on satellite free to air (no subscription fees) via dvb-S2 MPEG-4.”