Tuesday, January 31, 2012
BREAKING. TopTV CEO Vino Govender out at the struggling pay TV operator amidst pressure that he be removed; unhappiness over content.
OUT! I can spill that TopTV's CEO Vino Govender is getting the boot with the pay TV operator's beleaguered CEO that got shown the door as problems and pressure are mounting for On Digital Media (ODM) - today was the last day for Vino Govender who's getting replaced by Eddie Mbalo.
Insiders told me today about growing unhappiness from TopTV's angry board and incensed investors about TopTV's slow-growing subscriber numbers, content, and completely misguided porn package plans which are the primary reasons behind Vino Govender getting replaced. He will, according to sources, still be at the office tomorrow.
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Vino Govender took over as ODM CEO in 2007 when the original founder Mergan Moodley became ill, but he's out now at the pay TV service which signed up over 300 000 subscribers at the end of last year before TopTV's titillating porn plan became know.
Vino Govender I'm told will be replaced by Eddie Mbalo, the former CEO of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) since 2001. For how long Eddie Mbalo will stand in as acting TopTV CEO is currently not know.
I can exclusively reveal that the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) apparently asked Vino Govender to be replaced as TopTV CEO - according to insiders they're allegedly not happy with the subscriber numbers or with TopTV's faltering content. The massive uproar over TopTV's porn plans and dramatic turn of the pay TV operator from family-friendly pay platform to wannabe porn purveyor and the reputational damage it inflicted, did not sit well with TopTV's investors and incredible pressure on the pay TV platform has been building behind the scenes the past couple of weeks.
The IDC is one of the major investors in TopTV since its launch. The IDC could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Meanwhile insiders are confirming what I've already told you - that TopTV has been coming in for severe criticism for its vast number of repeat programming, lack of new channels (and in fact losing channels since November) as well as a lack of following through on multiple promises like starting a sport channel.
There's also the severe reputational and brand damage inflicted on TopTV the past two months with wanting to start a porn package which lead to a public fight with South Africa's broadcasting regulator, the resultant court interdict (which was granted to the regulator), and the regulator eventually turning down the controversial application for TopTV to start showing hardcore pornography.
There is overall, huge unhappiness with TopTV's content and the pace at which the pay TV operator has been managing subscriber growth, I'm told.
I'm told that Eddie Mbalo, the current chairperson is replacing Vino Govender as TopTV CEO. I'm told that no ODM employees have been told about the news which will send a new seismic shock through the Woodmead Office Park building. With Vino Govender gone, ''they'll then be bringing in a consulting company to relook structure, position and skill sets but nothing has been communicated to the staff,'' an insider told me today.
TopTV's atmosphere and low morale is apparently one of fear and extremely scared and uncertain employees. ''Morale is down,'' said a source, saying ''staff are hearing rumours and no one is communicating what's going on. There's a lot of uncertainty and people are worried about their jobs.''
TopTV did not immediately answer media enquiries made about Vino Govender's exit from the pay TV operator.
Since TopTV's commercial launch in May 2010 Vino Govender has back tracked on several occasions regarding the companies plans - the promise to not run pornographic TV channels chief among them. Promises of TopTV's plans to have high definition (HD) channels, a PVR, and the addition of several new TV channels within months of launch have not yet come to pass, with constantly moving goalposts.
TopTV went through a restructuring exactly a year ago, recently lost the Hi Nolly and One Music channels, will lose the Current TV channel on 11 March (none of which have been replaced, despite promises to do so) and has meanwhile hiked monthly subscriber fees without offering anything more, better or new last year.
Meanwhile TopTV suffered a disastrous double debit order disaster early last year. Almost two years after launch TopTV subscribers are still complaining about lousy customer service and the pay TV operator regularly suffers from technical broadcasting problems.
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