Saturday, April 11, 2015

BREAKING. Major technical problem at MultiChoice with M-Net, SuperSport channels cause DStv channels to go dark; call centre unavailable.

Major unknown technical problems at MultiChoice saw DStv channels go dark on Saturday with DStv subscribers unable to get through to the DStv call centre to find out what is wrong and going on.

"We are aware of the problem and working to resolve it," said MultiChoice spokesperson Marietjie Groenewald.

"MultiChoice apologises to viewers for the interruption in their viewing and is working on resolving it."

DStv subscribers who tried to call the MultiChoice call centre on Saturday at first got nothing, and later on Saturday afternoon a recorded message - after which calls are simply cut off - saying "Welcome to the DStv Call Centre. We are aware of the technical difficulties you are currently experiencing. Our engineers are attending to the problem."

MultiChoice has as yet not said what the problem is and why the technical failure happened which affected DStv subscribers across the whole of South Africa.

DStv subscribers complained of E16-4 and E32-38 errors and said rescanning of their DStv decoders didn't work. Online DStv video streaming also stopped.

A lot of DStv subscribers were watching the SuperSport channels which went dark at 12:30 during the Stormers vs Waratahs rugby game which they could no longer watch.

SuperSport 1 (DStv 201) and SuperSport 2 (DStv 202) simply told DStv subscribers in an on-screen message "Service not available".

The technical failure also affected the M-Net channels from DStv 101 to M-Net Edge on DStv 102, the M-Net Movies channels from DStv 103 to DStv 106 also went dark, as well as VUZU and also leaving DStv subscribers who wanted to watch the Big Brother Mzansi channels in the dark.

MultiChoice and M-Net recently moved the playout operations centre of the locally packaged and broadcast M-Net channels to a new location in Midrand.

It's not clear at this point whether something at this relatively new playout operations division didn't kick in as an emergency backup during the technical failure, whether something there actually caused the technical failure or whether it's not a factor in what caused the blackout of the M-Net and SuperSport channels on Saturday.

SuperSport on Twitter told subscribers that "we apologise for the signal loss" but that they can watch the match on SuperSport 7 (DStv 207). SuperSport said "We apologise for the technical issue on SS1. Our technicians are working on it".

M-Net told subscribers that "we are aware of the break in transmission and are working on the fault".

On Twitter several irate DStv subscribers started using the hashtag of #BringBacktheSignal on Saturday afternoon - a throwback moniker used by South Africa's press on 12 February when journalists and editors were blocked from reporting live and filing stories during president Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address in parliament when an illegal signal jammer was unlawfully activated by South Africa's Department of State Security.

DStv didn't give any answers to people on Facebook where DStv subscribers like Cindy Ferriman on asked and echoed the sentiment of a lot of DStv subscribers countrywide: "Help, suddenly some of our channels are down and it seems all MultiChoice contact lines are down as well".

"How can you cut the service for something I'm paying for?" asked Craig Johnson. "I am expecting a reduced payment on my next account as I am paying for a service that is not being delivered to me!"

"Why the hell do I pay R700 for this?" asked Ananda Heyl. "Come on. Where is the Stormers game and why is your website down. Unacceptable."

The DStv channels were restored later on Saturday afternoon at 14:00. On Twitter DStv didn't give any explanation but tweeted: "We are aware of the problem on some channels and are working on it. Apologies for the interruption in your viewing."

Later on Saturday afternoon, from after 15:00, the DStv Call Centre started playing a new recorded message to all DStv subscribers, asking them to reboot their DStv decoders if there is a problem getting TV channels.

"If you're currently experiencing any technical problems, we suggest you reboot the decoder. Simply switch your decoder off at the plug, wait a few seconds, and switch it back on again. This reboot process will rectify your problem."

Eventually after numerous failed calls to the DStv Call Centre on Saturday afternoon at 15:24 a DStv call centre operator was unable to explain what the problem was or what caused it, but was helpful in asking whether its a E32-38 problem she can help with.

"We don't know what caused the problem. Our technicians are looking at it," said the DStv Call Centre operator. "We got a lot of calls about it and the matter has been escalated."