Friday, August 2, 2019

Econet's flagship Kwesé Free Sports channel in abrupt blackout on Openview as Econet's financial problems spread; says it's permanently terminating the channel's carriage after a days-long blackout.

The Kwesé Free Sports from Econet Media's Kwesé TV has abruptly gone dark and disappeared from's Openview free-to-air satellite service as Econet's financial problems continue to spread, with saying it's permanently dumping Kwesé Free Sports after days of the unfixed channel blackout.

Econet Media blames the blackout of its Kwesé Free Sports channel on channel 115 on Openview on "unforeseen technical difficulties".

It's "unforeseen technical difficulties" that Econet Media CEO Joseph Hundah doesn't want to explain although it's part of the spreading financial problems faced by his Kwesé TV and media empire which started to collapse a few months ago.

Kwesé Free Sports was added to Openview a year and a half ago in March 2018. The sports channel that Econet can no longer keep on the air was also supposed to be an alternative to MultiChoice's SuperSport pay-TV operation, and the cornerstone of Econet's "Kwesé Free TV" - the new free-to-air commercial TV station that recently got licensed to start broadcasting in South Africa.

It's not clear and Econet is staying silent, about how its growing financial troubles will affect South its Kwesé Free TV licence that it got from the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) with Econet Media that holds a 20% stake in the venture.

On Thursday Econet Media finally admitted to the public and its customers that its struggling video streaming service Kwesé Play is also done and that the Roku Kwesé Play devices are now worthless with service that won't be restored. Econet said Kwesé Play is being liquidated. Econet also told staffers that a process of voluntary retrenchments is taking place across the business.

While Kwesé Play customers in Zimbabwe can get a refund, there is no word on where it leaves South African Kwesé Play subscribers stuck with a service and the customised media players that no longer work.

Econet's Kwesé was placed under administration at the beginning of July 2019 with the African pay-TV operator's Kwesé Play streaming service that abruptly shut down and stopped working although Econet at the time lied and said that it's only temporary.

Econet said that its beleaguered pay-TV business struggled to compete with China's StarTimes and MultiChoice's DStv.

Econet's Kwesé Free Sports channel abruptly cut out on Sunday 28 July and has been dark five days.

Since Monday 29 July was asked what happened to Kwesé Free Sports on Openview and for comment but didn't respond with any answers.

On Friday in a press release said that "technical efforts to restore its connectivity proved to be unsuccessful".

In a supplied quote through, Joseph Hundah said that "Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, we have been unable to restore our channels in a satisfactory state at this time. We understand that this is disappointing and apologise for the inconvenience."

Econet didn't respond to media enquiries made this week. 

Ziyanda Mngomezulu, Openview's head of channel acquisitions, in the statement says that "Providing our audience with a sports channel was a significant achievement for us on the platform channel offerings. The dissolution of the Kwesè Free Sports channel has been a tremendous loss, not only for us as Openview, but most importantly, for the audiences that we serve".

Openview says it will no longer be carrying Econet's Kwesé Free Sports on its satellite TV -platform.