Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BREAKING. StarSat tells subscribers after transmission blackout the beleaguered satellite pay-TV operator is 'experiencing technical issues'.

StarSat is so far unwilling - or unable - to say what caused its nationwide service outage which saw its beleaguered satellite pay-TV service go dark for subscribers across South Africa on Monday, saying on Tuesday only that StarSat is experiencing "technical issues" which caused a break in transmission.

StarSat's call centre number on Monday and Tuesday morning said "the number you have dialed is unobntainable" and emails StarSat subscribers tried to send went undelivered, as did faxes to the fax number.

StarSat which kept its subscribers in the dark all through Monday afternoon, Monday night and on Tuesday morning, has now given subscribers some information in a Facebook message, saying "StarSat is currently experiencing technical issues".

"We apologise to our subscribers for any inconvenience that this break in transmission may have caused. Our engineers are actively working to resolve the problem".

StarSat, currently still in business rescue, is run by On Digital Media (ODM) and China's StarTimes Media SA.

StarSat which kept subscribers in the dark all through Monday since 15:00 and Tuesday morning, is now saying "we apologize for any technical difficulties you have experienced accessing our content".

StarSat says "we are also experiencing higher than expected call volumes regarding the technical challenges we are currently facing; thank you in advance for your patience as we work quickly to resolve the issue and getting the services back up and running".

StarSat subscribers from Cape Town to Durban and Pretoria to Port Elizabeth are not just furious about the loss of their pay-TV service but also about the Woodmead-based company's lack of quick, clear communication to explain what is going on.

A lot of StarSat subscribers voiced their fear that perhaps StarSat, currently in business rescue, might have gone "belly up".

"StarSat. What is going on?" said Michelle le Roux on Tuesday, echoing the shock, frustration and anger of many StarSat subscribers who vented on the troubled pay-TV operator's swamped Facebook page where they got no answers.

"This is the poorest service I have ever experienced in my life.Your service is the poorest," said Thea Botes.

"How about answering a phone! Or giving one that actually goes through to a consultant. I have wasted R150 on calls last night," said Charmaine Vorster.

StarSat's PR company Burson-Marsteller Africa was asked on Tuesday morning why StarSat subscribers lost their signal and why the problem is continuing on Tuesday, whyStarSat's call centre wasn't working, why emails went undelivered, whether StarSat subscribers will be refunded for the signal loss and how they should go about it, if there is something subscribers need to do with their decoders, and that StarSat subscribers are extremely concerned that the company has "gone belly up".

There's been no response by Tuesday afternoon to any of the questions put to the company, beside a terse statement this morning of "StarSat is currently experiencing technical issues. We apologise to our subscribers for any inconvenience that this break in transmission may have caused.Our engineers are actively working to resolve the problem".

Last month ODM and StarTimes Media SA lost a lengthy and costly court battle when the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed - with cost - StarSat's appeal over its hardcore porn channels which the Western Cape High Court at the end of 2014 ordered off the air.

Since it launched in May 2010, TopTV and later StarSat has faced an ongoing uphill battle - from a double debit order run scandal in February 2011, repeated in April 2012, to the abrupt loss of various TV channels, technical problems and blackouts of certain channels and technical problems with the introduction of the new StarSat decoders imported from China.

Even after the StarSat rebrand at the end of 2013 when ODM switched its satellite transponder uplinking of channels from Germany to Beijing, StarSat subscribers' complaints continued.

Subscribers were unhappy with the bad TV signal quality, StarSat's chaotic electronic programme guide (EPG) broken promises over new TV channels, complaining about "non-existent" call centre customer service.

Into 2015 StarSat subscribers continued to complain about the bad transmission quality of certain channels, complaining that some channels suffer from ongoing bad sound and degrading video pixelation problems, while some channels like FOX Crime would go black or have the channel freeze up for hours.