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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

BET International abruptly yanked from StarSat as On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes Media SA loses the Viacom channel followed by subscriber rage.

The embattled pay-TV service StarSat abruptly lost yet another TV channel with BET International (StarSat 167) that suddenly went dead and furious remaining StarSat subscribers venting and threatening to leave the service in droves.

On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes Media SA running the struggling StarSat didn't respond to media enquiries about the abrupt yanking of the TV channel yesterday which was cut from the operator.

In addition StarSat also lost the Star Plus (StarSat 560) and Star Vijay (StarSat 565) channels from its Indian bouquet yesterday since both those channels are jumping to competitor MultiChoice's DStv platform.

BET International is the latest channel loss this year at StarSat that remains in business rescue, with culled channels like TLC and the two FOX Movies channels that, despite promises, have not been replaced.

StarSat's website still carries big banners for BET, and the channel line-up still lists BET although the Viacom channel is not actually available to subscribers. Instead the Nigerian channel iROKO has been added on another StarSat channel number.

In October MultiChoice and VIMN Africa announced that it will be contracting the two BET channels on DStv - BET and BET2 - into just one channel after expanding it to two channels in April this year.

BET2 on DStv and BET International on StarSat was actually the same channel, branded slightly differently. It now turns out that with BET2 going dark on DStv, Viacom International Media Networks also pulled the essentially same channel from StarSat.

Viacom's BET has been available on StarSat's platform for the past five years. The channel's return to South Africa on StarSat, then known as TopTV, and its subsequent success and viewer response, in fact led to retesting by MultiChoice which then also decided to add BET in September 2014.

StarSat didn't respond to a media enquiry asking why BET went away. 

Viacom in Africa in response to a media enquiry said "We can confirm that BET International ceased broadcasting on StarTimes on 30 November due to the expiry of our agreement. We regret that viewers will no longer be able to access BET content on this platform".

Neither StarSat nor VIMN Africa issued any statement or advisory to the media about the termination of the channel before it happened and which is customary.  

On social media angry StarSat subscribers are venting about the loss of BET and the Indian channels with no response from StarSat on its Facebook page while a tremendous backlash about the loss of the channels.

"Watching BET and the channel disappears," said Raymond Molapo.

"No comment from StarSat about BET? Why not increase price packages if its expensive to keep channels? I can't get over ending BET," said Nthabeleng Molapo.

"Why the hell is BET ending today? That was the one decent channel that I've enjoyed watching," said Lee Sebonka.

"I have to say goodbye. You taking BET from me; too many changes," said Audrey Michiel.

"StarSat takes away good channels and replaces it with junk," said Jenita Durga. "Why not have a Nigerian bouquet for those who want those channels? StarSat catch a wake-up or your ship will sink."