Friday, October 4, 2019
Disney pulls all FOX-supplied channels from StarTimes’ StarSat over 'commercial issues' after negotiations fail while StarSat in bizarre claim tells its customers the satellite-TV channels are gone because of alleged '5G-signal interference'.
Angry and confused StarSat and StarTimes subscribers who no longer get the slew of channels they’ve paid for that and that was removed without any prior warning, are furious over the blackout of the channels.
The blackout of the additional FOX-channels collection follows a month after the two FOX Sports channels – FOX Sports and FOX Sports 2 – were supposed to change to ESPN and ESPN2 on StarTimes and StarSat at the beginning of September but failed to materialise.
The ESPN channels no-show has been a cause of massive embarrassment to both Disney who hyped ESPN’s Africa-return and to the FOX Networks Group that it now owns, when there was no actual platform for viewers to see these channels.
After the ESPN gaffe, the channels blackout on StarSat has now expanded with the FOX Networks Group’s FOX, FOX Life, FOX Portuguese, National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD, National Geographic Portuguese, Baby TV, Voyage, National Geographic French, and Nat Geo WILD French channels that have all suddenly gone dark since October as well.
This again happened without any prior warning to StarSat subscribers.
Disney says that it decided to pull its channels from StarTimes’ satellite pay-TV service because of “ongoing commercial issues with StarSat” that StarSat failed to resolve.
Disney says that the FOX, FOX Life and Nat Geographic channels remain available on MultiChoice’s DStv satellite pay-TV service in South Africa and throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
StarSat in a bizarre message to subscribers however blames alleged 5G cellphone signal testing interference for the loss of the channels.
StarSat said that it is working on replacement channels for the FOX channels that Disney took away.
Disney suspends channel feeds after negotiations failed
“We can confirm that our channels – FOX, FOX Life, ESPN, ESPN2, FOX Portuguese, National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD, National Geographic Portuguese, Baby TV, Voyage, National Geographic French, and Nat Geo WILD French – are currently not being provided to StarSat,” The Walt Disney Company Africa told TVwithThinus in response to a media enquiry.
"This follows ongoing commercial issues with StarSat,” Disney Africa said.
“Despite Disney’s negotiations in good faith and significant efforts to find a resolution, The Walt Disney Company Africa has had to suspend the feeds of all of our channels to StarSat at this time.”
“We continue to work to find a positive resolution but in the meantime our channels will remain available on various other platforms across the continent. Viewers are encouraged to visit FOXAfrica.com, NatGeoTV.com and ESPN.com to find tune-in information.”
Disney Africa said that it is responding to consumer queries.
StarSat in a message to its subscribers blamed alleged terrestrial 5G signal testing for the loss of the satellite-delivered TV channel signals on its pay-TV service. It’s not clear why 5G testing apparently only affects specifically the Disney-FOX channels.
“Please be advised that the following channels have been offline since 1 October 2019: FOX, FOX Life, National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD. Proliferation of 5G signal testing stations due to 5G network expansion has created interference with signal feeds of the above channels, resulting in adverse viewer experience,” StarSat tells subscribers in a message.
“Channel replacement measures to revitalise our content offering are currently underway. StarSat would like to thank you for your patience and continued support.”
StarSat in response to a media enquiry said that the 5G problem is in South Africa "due to the rapid expansion of 5G network" and that the 5G-signal testing "is specifically interfering with C-band satellite frequency which has in turn compromised viewer experience in terms of sound and picture quality".
It's not clear how 5G interferes with sound and picture quality of satellite channel signals, or why it only affects the FOX-supplied channels that specifically belong to the Disney group.
If the 5G interference in South Africa is real as StarSat claims, it's also unclear why the channel blackout happened on StarTimes and StarSat's service it is running in other countries outside of South Africa as well where there are no 5G testing happening.
The StarTimes rival MultiChoice is mired in its own channel carriage contract fight with A+E Networks UK, with DStv subscribers set to lose the entire A+E set of channels at the end of October including History, Lifetime and Crime+Investigation.
A+E Networks, that established a local A+E Networks Africa office in Johannesburg employing 12 people who might lose their jobs and that has been ramping up local content production that might now be cancelled, says that it remains hopeful that MultiChoice will sign a new carriage deal to pay to keep the popular channels on DStv.
Consumers ask: 'Do you think we're a bunch of idiots?'
StarSat customers are extremely angry after the unannounced removal of the channels, with a litany of complaints on StarSat's Facebook page.
Calvine Mugombi asked "How do you remove channels without a warning especially after we just paid?"
"Such testing is not interfering with the same channels at MultiChoice," said Kayvee Under. "Why are you telling us lies, come clean please. It was your plan to remove them and not replacing them but taking our money because you believe that we're fools".
"What a crap response from Starsat," noted Percy Mitchell. "Do you really think that we are all a bunch of idiots to believe the crap you feed us?"
"IF 5G testing was interfering with signal reception from a satellite, that interference would NOT be limited to a handful of channels,"said Kerwin Budden. "It would cause disruption to the entire spectrum relayed from satellite to satellite-dish and all channels would be affected. A grade 1 learner would understand that. StarSat stop feeding the subscribers lies."
"Just last month I asked StarSat if they are cancelling FOX etc. also when they cancelled channels on 1 August," said Gerhard Deyzel. "I still have the messages where they assured me that they are not cancelling FOX and National Geographic... kept it as proof. I saw this coming long time ago.
"This is disgusting. The only channels worth watching are gone without warning. Thankfully I haven't paid yet. Goodbye Starsat," remarked Laura van der Westhuizen.