Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Neither StarSat, Cell C black nor OpenView HD interested in taking over the ANN7 channel from MultiChoice's DStv.

Neither StarSat, Cell C black nor OpenView HD are interested in taking over the ANN7 channel from MultiChoice's DStv, with none of the three TV providers who carry TV news channels in a position - or willing - to pump the millions of rand into the so-called "Guptanews" channel that's required to keep such a channel afloat.

MultiChoice's has decided to dump ANN7, that's been a mistake-riddled embarrassment since the first day it launched on 21 August 2013, from its DStv satellite pay-TV platform at the end of July.

MultiChoice discarding ANN7 doesn't technically spell the shutdown of the channel since the floundering Mzwanele Manyi owned TV albatross could be taken over by another platform - although nobody else actually wants, or can afford, it.

StarSat CEO Debbie Wu tells TVwithThinus that "as you are aware StarSat just came out of business rescue, our current focus is to re-establish and stabilise the business. Currently we have not mandated any engagements in connection with ANN7.

Surie Ramasary, Cell C black chief executive says "We have a very strong suite of news channels and a news specific package on black with our current content offering and are not looking to include additional news channels at this time.  We will review our news content offering when appropriate."

eMedia Investments that run the free-to-air satellite TV platform, OpenView HD through its Platco Digital division, says "eMedia Investments will not be commenting on the issue you have raised below."

It's extremely unlikely that OpenView HD will take over ANN7 since the channel's operating costs are too expensive, OpenView HD can't pay that, and eMedia Investments already supply the rival TV news channel eNCA to MultiChoice's DStv.

ANN7 can't exist without a platform
ANN7, now owned by Afrotone Media Holdings, can't exist on its own and can't broadcast directly to viewers - it needs a platform through which to broadcast for two reasons.

Firstly ANN7 can't for instance just become a YouTube channel or be turned into a free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT) channel since it doesn't have such a license. ANN7 was commissioned by MultiChoice as specifically a satellite TV channel with the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Like M-Net's Mzansi Magic or ITV Choice or BBC Worldwide's BBC Earth, ANN7 is a channel that was created for and must sit in a TV decoder basket. Like a gold fish in a bowl, it can't exist independently outside of the environment that keeps it alive.

Icasa okay'ed ANN7 as a pay-TV channel for a satellite TV service. Therefore ANN7 can't suddenly broadcast to everyone like a SABC1 or

Even if it were to do so, ANN7 would first have to get a type of DTT or analogue television broadcasting frequency and license - something Icasa is not issuing now or anymore.

ANN7 will also then have to find a terrestrial signal distributor like Sentech, and pay millions of rand for its TV signal to be send through the airwaves so that TV antennas can receive it.

ANN7 as an expensive operation also needs millions to keep afloat, and the possible income generated from YouTube or other streaming services simply won't be enough.

Secondly ANN7 is very largely dependent on what is known in the biz as "carriage fees" - the money the platform it is on, pays the channel for its content.

This "carriage fee" is the millions of rand that MultiChoice has been paying ANN7 as part of the carriage agreement or contract. It is the controversially large amounts of money that MultiChoice has been pumping into ANN7 over the past four years although the channel kept damaging the MultiChoice and DStv brands.

It's also interesting to note that carriage agreements between TV platform operators and TV channel suppliers usually stipulate that if a channel's content quality isn't up to scratch that penalties kick in, often in the form of reduced carriage fee payments.

Just like in shops where last season's leftover fashion rejects are marked down in the "bargain bin" and the price of food items are decreased as they near their sell by date because their value are diminishing as a result of their quality going down, bad TV channels as a product are paid less than premium, "good" channels.

In MultiChoice's and ANN7's case however, when ANN7 performed extremely badly, MultiChoice didn't penalise ANN7 by paying it less, but decided to pay ANN7 even more.

ANN7 essentially since launch became a laughing stock for its bad audio and video quality, amateur anchors making mistakes and struggling to read, numerous technical mistakes and spelling mistakes.

MultiChoice decided to pump millions of rand more into ANN7 when the channel under-performed and suffered from bad quality, with MultiChoice saying in a statement it decided to pay ANN7 even more money because "the terms of the agreement were renegotiated and payments increased when it became apparent that ANN7 needed to improve quality on the channel".