Thursday, March 19, 2015

The choice of British TV programming expanding as MultiChoice adds the ITV Choice channel to DStv from 5 May.

There's more British TV programming than just the BBC, and from 5 May South African and the rest of Africa's DStv subscribers will get a bigger choice when the global British TV channel ITV Choice (DStv 123) becomes available on MultiChoice's DStv.

When ITV Choice, from ITV Studios Global Entertainment, launches in May it will be the first time since the closure of Carlton Select at the end of March 2003 that there will be competition on DStv in terms of general British entertainment television channels.

The British demise of Carlton Select exactly 12 years ago left only BBC Prime, later renamed BBC Entertainment (DStv 120), as the sole channel in the general British entertainment category.

From May ITV Choice, a commercial general entertainment TV channel broadcast globally in 40 countries, will instantly become competition for the BBC Worldwide supplied BBC Entertainment which has come in for criticism for showing old programming and taking too long to broadcast episodes of international hits like Downton Abbey which in the United Kingdom is actually an ITV shown and ITV Studios produced show.

It's in fact likely that over time several TV shows from ITV Studios currently seen on other DStv TV channels in Africa, ranging from The X Factor UK and Britain's Got Talent on M-Net, to Downton Abbey and Mr Selfridge on BBC Entertainment will migrate from those channels to ITV Choice.

Current BBC Entertainment shown programming like The Only Way is Essex, Who Wants to be a Millionaire UK, The Cube and M-Net's Broadchurch are actually shown in the United Kingdom on the commercial free-to-air channel ITV.

On MultiChoice, ITV Choice will be for DStv Premium subscribers across Africa only, with some programming like the popular British soaps Coronation Street and Emmerdale which will see episodes broadcast within 48 hours after it was shown in the United Kingdom.

ITV Choice says all other programming will be broadcast "very close" to UK transmission dates.

Although ITV Choice says the channel is broadcast in high definition (HD) it's not clear whether MultiChoice will broadcast this HD version of ITV Choice on DStv for its Premium subscribers from May.

ITV Choice didn't release a May schedule with the announcement, but says the channel's programming line-up at launch will include ITV Studios' prime time entertainment series Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, Big Star's Little Star, Keep it in the Family, Get Your Act Together as well as shows like Eggheads and Coach Trip.

Drama series on ITV Choice at launch will include Poldark, Arthur & George which tells the story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and ITV Studios' World War II drama Home Fires. The detective series Vera and Murdock Mysteries will also make their debut.

"We are delighted to bring ITV Choice to Africa for the first time with MultiChoice as our partners," says Nic van Zwanenberg, channel director of ITV Choice.

Nic van Zwanenberg says a key element to build ITV Choice is to show entertainment and drama programming "within days of it airing in the United Kingdom", promising that further programming expansion will be announced.

"Our customers love British content and when we decided to add more British channels, ITV was the natural choice," says Aletta Alberts, the general manager for content at MultiChoice South Africa.