THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Thursday, February 6, 2014

BREAKING. FOX channels start to return to TV across Africa to StarSat in South Africa, as well as StarTimes and Zuku.


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The FOX channels supplied by Fox International Channels Africa (FIC Africa) to pay-TV operators across Africa such as On Digital Media's (ODM) StarSat in South Africa as well as the platforms of StarTimes and Zuku are returning and stabilising - although still suffering from pixelation - after the channels were abruptly cut and went black on operators' channel line-ups on Wednesday evening.

FIC Africa tells TV with Thinus that Fox was made aware that there was a major signal disruption on its channels FOX and FX on the StarSat platform in South Africa, as well as China's StarTimes and the Wananchi Group's Zuku platforms late on Wednesday. FOX Crime was not impacted.

With no communication from On Digital Media to StarSat subscribers on Wednesday or early on Thursday morning, and due to past troubles, StarSat subscribers in South Africa immediately assumed that all the Fox channels were yanked due to financial problems as has happened to several other channels over the past two years.

Subscribers didn't know what to do, or who to blame. Was the Fox blackout due to Fox? Was it due to StarSat? The problem however has been technical and due to the signal provider relaying the Fox channels to pay-TV providers.

The Fox channels on MultiChoice's DStv were not affected.

"These platforms use the same signal distributor and due to inclement weather, the fibre carrying the channels was impacted, leaving viewers with no picture," Thandi Davids, the director for broadcasting and marketing at FIC Africa in Johannesburg explains.

"This was purely a technical issue. Fox has worked with all platforms to resolve the problem and viewers on these platforms should have the channels up and running at this moment. Platforms are presently stabilizing the signal quality".

"As FIC we are unable to communicate on platform technical issues, only on issues that are within our direct technical control," she says.

ODM has so far not issued any statement or officially commented on behalf of the pay-TV provider, although a StarSat spokesperson on Thursday morning told TV with Thinus that "the problem is with the service provider who provides the fibre link in Europe and that "they are working on the problem with a good deal of urgency".