Thursday, June 2, 2016

eMedia says possible new contract with MultiChoice for eNCA to remain on DStv will likely not be significantly better.

This story and the headline above has been updated at 02:35pm from an earlier version. The earlier version started and stated that "eNCA might go dark within months on DStv". I'm assured that's not the case and won't happen.

It's unlikely that the eNCA (DStv 403) news channel will disappear from DStv but eMedia Investments cautions that a new long term deal to keep eNCA on MultiChoice's satellite pay-TV platform will make the financial performance of owner eMedia Holdings to not be as profitable.

eNCA is by far the most watched TV news channel and most viewed local TV news channel on the entire DStv bouquet with a total news channel share of over 50%.

The long term carriage agreement between MultiChoice and eMedia Holdings, the owners of that supplies eNCA to MultiChoice's DStv, changed on Wednesday at the end of May.

Although the existing long term contract didn't expire at the end of May it is now "terminable", with either side that can now end eNCA's existence on DStv by giving 3 months' notice. Both sides however continue to negotiate about a new possible long term contract.

eNCA launched as the eNews Channel on DStv 8 years ago on 1 June 2008 and has been available exclusively on DStv even though eMedia Investments started its own free-to-air satellite platform OpenView HD through Platco Digital.

A year ago eNCA started to cut its operational costs, downsizing its programming and actuality shows offering, cuting staff and largely did away with its Africa coverage. Despite the changes the channel remains the most watched of all TV news channels on DStv.

eMedia Holdings in its just released annual report says a new carriage agreement with MultiChoice will likely not mean a lot more money than the current contract.

"All indications are that DStv would like to enter into a new agreement to keep the news channel on its platform. It should however be noted that a new deal with DStv will not see the current performance of be sustainable going forward".

In response to a media enquiry, spokesperson Vasili Vass tells TVwithThinus that "the parties continue to negotiate in good faith on a basis for eNCA to continue to air on DStv".

"eMedia Holdings is of the view that a new deal will not be significantly better than our current agreement. However, given that eNCA is the most-watched 24-hour news channel in South Africa with a share of over 50% of viewers who watch news, the company has strong plans in place to ensure the continued success of the channel".

MultiChoice, asked how it feels about eNCA's performance, said "we do not comment on negotiations with channel suppliers".

While eNCA doesn't stream its linear channel online like ANN7, it has started to make its weeknight Moneyline show available online where it can be streamed with the commercial breaks removed. eNCA also started to expand its audio offering in May by offering downloadable radio bulletins and an audio version of the Judge for Yourself legal show.