TopTV loses two more channels

2013-07-01 15:09

TopTV, the struggling South African satellite pay-TV service, lost two more TV channels with Fox Retro going dark without any prior warning or explanation and Top Explore getting dumped in favour of another factual entertainment channel called Spark.

After Discovery Networks International CEEMEA got yanked without any explanation – only to later restore all its channels to the beleaguered TopTV’s bouquet – Fox International Channels Africa (FIC Africa) in May assured Channel24 that it had “no plans to remove channels” from TopTV.

It now seems like Fox Retro, the classic TV channel, has gone missing on channel 181 on TopTV without any warning or explanation from TopTV or FIC Africa to pay-TV subscribers.

After the sudden and unexpected departure of Fox Retro, TopTV responded to a media enquiry as to what happened, saying that “this was a decision by Fox to terminate the channel over the whole of Africa. It was not a TopTV decision. Discussions are far advanced with regard to a replacement channel and we will advise as soon as the details are known”.

MultiChoice’s DStv will be adding the new Fox Crime channel from FIC Africa to DStv from July 19. Insiders are speculating that FIC Africa was or is planning to replace Fox Retro with Fox Crime on TopTV but that has not been confirmed.

In April TopTV ended its self-compiled and own branded Top Junior and Top Movies+24 channels, calling it an “unavoidable exercise”. Neither of those channels has so far been replaced.

TopTV on Friday announced it’s also ending Top Explore immediately signalling the end to a third “Top” branded channel. Top Explore is being replaced by Spark from today – a replacement factual entertainment channel.

“Spark is the new brand for our existing documentary channel Top Explore,” said Ian Woodrow, the vice president for channels at TopTV in a statement issued Friday.

“Subscribers will still see many of the programmes which they have enjoyed on Top Explore in the past but will also be impressed with the new programming that has been secured for the channel.”

TopTV is currently in business rescue with the Woodmead based pay-TV operator which got a licence earlier this year to start a separate porn bouquet of three pornographic channels – Desire TV, Private Spice and PlayboyTV – supplied by Playboy UK/Benelux Limited.

On Digital Media (ODM) which runs the TopTV platform has not yet given any indication of whether it will go ahead with its porn plans to launch it commercially. Asked last week about latest developments regarding the operator and the bail-out proceedings with China’s StarTimes taking a stake in the company, TopTV declined comment.

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