DStv drops four channels without warning

E-tv owner eMedia has announced that MultiChoice dropped four of its channels from DStv without warning.

This comes after the Competition Tribunal ruled against eMedia’s appeal to keep the channels on MultiChoice’s satellite TV platform.

“Viewers were left in the dark with no programmes as they tried to watch certain eMedia channels on the DStv platform last night,” the company stated.

“MultiChoice turned off eExtra, eMovies, eMovies extra, eToonz immediately and without warning as soon as the ruling was announced.”

eMedia approached the Competition Tribunal in April after MultiChoice renewed its channel supply agreement with the company and refused to include the four channels.

“No reasons were provided for the ruling by the Competition Tribunal,” eMedia said.

It said the unannounced switch-off also left eMedia without sufficient time to communicate to viewers.

“Viewers are angry and disappointed that they are no longer able to see their programmes via the DStv platform,” said eMedia.

“All the e.tv channels will continue to broadcast on Openview.”

E-tv and eNCA will still be broadcast on DStv.

eMedia announced in its annual results last week that eExtra, eMovies Extra, and eReality rank in the top 15 of all satellite channels available in South Africa.

It noted that the channels contributed to the company’s audience and revenue share.

Openview and eMedia’s channels on DStv accounted for 21.9% of the company’s advertising revenue, bringing in R468.1 million.

eMedia’s direct-to-home satellite TV unit achieved profitability for the first time, with content costs for the year pegged at R446.3 million.

Therefore, losing four of its channels on DStv could be a substantial blow to eMedia.

During the Competition Tribunal hearings, MultiChoice revealed that it would only have capacity for 11 more channels on its satellites after cancelling the four from eMedia.

MultiChoice argued that the rejection of the eMedia’s four channels was based on an assessment of their distinctiveness and appeal, which fell short of DStv’s commercial requirements.

MultiChoice responds

MultiChoice has refuted eMedia’s allegation that it switched the channels off without warning.

It pointed to a media query from TV journalist Thinus Ferreira at the end of March, suggesting that its response qualified as sufficient notice.

“We had shared a media statement on the flighting of the channels in questions [from Ferreira] sometime in March with an indication of the expected date for carriage to cease,” MultiChoice stated.

In its response to Ferreira, MultiChoice said it expected the Competition Tribunal case to be concluded by 31 May, and that it would carry eMedia’s four channels until then.

Now read: E-tv takes South Africa hostage over spectrum

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DStv drops four channels without warning