Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The SABC says its SABC Encore channel on DStv wasn't axed over its failure to pay artists residuals but that MultiChoice in 2018 already decided to can the channel in 2020.

by Thinus Ferreira

The South African public broadcaster's SABC Encore channel on MultiChoice's DStv is going dark at the end of the month but its demise doesn't have to do with the SABC's alleged failure to properly pay artists residuals and repeat fees - the satellite pay-TV service already decided to kill off SABC Encore two years ago when it pulled the plug in 2018 during the last channel carriage renewal.

MultiChoice is getting rid of ITV's ITV Choice (DStv 123), AMC Networks International's Sundance TV (DStv 108) and SABC Encore (DStv 156) at the end of May with all three channels being removed after TV Mall was also taken away at the end of April from DStv subscribers in the latest DStv bouquet content culling.

The SABC has said that performers are being paid residuals for the rebroadcast of shows from the SABC archives on the rerun channel that has been packaged with library series for and carried on MultiChoice's DStv.

Yet artists and actor organisations have been vocal and insistent that they haven't been paid or shared in any of the millions of rand that MultiChoice has been paying the SABC for SABC Encore over the past half a decade.

SABC Encore launched in mid-May 2015 on DStv with big fanfare from the SABC and a bizarre SABC Encore launch event where the then SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng ranted that "MultiChoice must pay" and that the "SABC is coming for pay-TV".

It's not yet clear whether SABC Encore will continue to run as a TV channel despite its removal from MultiChoice DStv and whether it might become a stand-alone digital terrestrial television (DTT) channel only.

MultiChoice says that its contract "with the SABC for SABC Encore will not be renewed – as agreed by both respective parties, as per their contract which included a non-renewal option."

On Tuesday night Madoda Mxakwe, SABC CEO, told parliament's portfolio committee on communications that the SABC already knew in 2018 that SABC Encore would not survive on DStv past 2020 and get axed.

The SABC is however looking to possibly continue SABC Encore as a channel on possible other platforms.

"The reason for SABC Encore being cancelled has nothing to do with royalties but it's because DStv indicated in the new agreement that we signed in 2018 that they would not extend it beyond a further 2 years which expires this year," Madoda Mxakwe said.

"We are exploring other venues in terms of continuing with that channel."