Cape Town – The loss of a Lifetime has seen thousands of livid DStv subscribers sign a fast-growing petition that continues to rake in signees after MultiChoice's shocking decision to axe A+E Networks' History, Crime+Investigation Network and Lifetime channels at the end of the month after contract renewal talks soured and broke down.
After just three days, a petition on Change.org where DStv subscribers are demanding MultiChoice keep the three channels it plans to drop has quickly shot up to become one of the week's most popular. It was started on Wednesday and reached over 2 200 signatures and comments and counting by Saturday morning.
"DStv has decided to remove the History, Crime+Investigation and Lifetime channels off their platform from 1 November 2019. These are amazing channels and very loved by the South African DStv community," reads the petition.
"The decision is illogical and clearly shows DStv only worries about their profits and not the quality of shows for their customers. Imagine DStv without these. Further to this, A+E Networks has amazing local productions and many more coming. They have also opened up an African office which is growing and creating local employment, this will all come to an end if these channels are cut.
"I urge you to show your support for A+E Networks in terms of their channels and their contribution to our country," the petition reads.
MultiChoice that has carried the three channels for years failed to come to terms with A+E Networks UK over the increased carriage fees the pay-TV operator must pay for the content as part of a possible renewal deal. The History channel has been on DStv for 16 years since 2003, Crime+Investigation on DStv for 11 years since 2007, and Lifetime on DStv for five years since mid-2014.
According to insiders MultiChoice was allegedly forced to take all three channels as a packaged "all-or-nothing" deal but didn't necessarily want all three channels anymore, and also baulked at the price. A+E Networks Africa was asked about it but didn't respond to a media enquiry made Friday morning.
MultiChoice alluded to the content on the channels and the channels themselves allegedly not resonating with viewers as the reason for the culling, but the massive outcry from DStv customers has shown that subscribers are heavily invested emotionally in viewing these channels and the shows on them.
Earlier the week A+E Networks said that "we have been very proactive in trying to reach an agreement that is best for our viewers and for DStv" but that "DStv has decided that our channels do not offer good value to their subscribers.
"We are willing to keep negotiations open and we sincerely hope DStv will find a way to work with us to keep our channels so we can continue to share our great upcoming local and international programmes with our loyal fans."
MultiChoice in response to a media enquiry said, "We need to consider the costs for the channel, the terms which may apply and whether we can get better value elsewhere."
"In some instances decisions will be made due to channels not performing up to expectations, particularly given the costs concerned, but the world over its not unusual for channels to be changed if parties cannot agree on terms, for whatever reason.
"We conscious about the content that our customers enjoyed on the A+E Networks channels and we are in talks with other suppliers to get similar content."
DStv subscribers tired of channels being removed
"This is b.s., we are sick and tired of channels being removed and with History and C+I and Lifetime gone, it devalues the DStv Compact Plus package and we have this package to get these channels. Sis on you," said Jenni Mahlnecht, who was one of the many people to sign the online petition and leave a comment.
"My dad loves History and I love Crime+Investigation. Do you really want to push more of your viewers to Showmax and Netflix? Both subscriptions together cost less than a DStv Premium subscription," said Nicole Carrick.
"Those are educational and my best channels now I will have nothing to watch," remarked Nonhlanhla Dlamini.
"I personally upgraded my subscription to watch Lifetime. It has great content and moreover all Lifetime, C+I and History channels' picture quality are worth paying for," said Khathutshelo Mudau.
"There are other useless channels that can be cancelled, just not these ones. There is so much to be learned from these channels," said Thandeka Ndlela.