Johannesburg - On Digital Media (ODM) and its Chinese partner, Star Times, officially launched StarSat, a pay-TV platform that will offer 90 channels and a stand-alone Playboy pornographic bouquet, at a low-key event in Johannesburg yesterday.
StarSat is a relaunch of TopTV, the low-cost pay-TV bouquet that suffered huge reputational damage. TopTV, which has 61 video and 25 music channels, struggled to grow in the shadow of MultiChoice, the biggest pay-TV broadcaster in South Africa.
The entry of StarSat into the pay-TV market “promises a new viewing experience”, Eddie Mbalo, ODM’s chief executive, said yesterday.
The platform would be available in the market from December 1, and was expected to introduce a range of new packages and channels, with new pricing structures, Mbalo said.
StarSat will be available with high-definition signals, although TopTV customers will be able to access StarSat on their decoders.
High-definition decoders will go on sale for those who wish to upgrade.
“We believe that diversity in the broadcasting space benefits the viewer the most, which is why we are so excited about the launch of StarSat here today,” Pang Xinxing, the president of StarTimes, said at the launch.
Pang said the group was in discussions with a local manufacturer for the decoders.
“We are considering mass production of the decoders to cut costs. Currently we are in discussions with one local company that can supply the group with the decoders,” Pang said.
He added that the manufacturing of the decoders in South Africa was expected to take off next year and the products would be exported to other African countries.
Star Times is a 20 percent partner in ODM, and already has an extensive African footprint with over 2.5 million digital terrestrial television subscribers in countries including Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
The launch comes despite an urgent court application launched by disgruntled shareholders to halt a business rescue process at ODM. The business rescue process was adopted by shareholders in April.
Business rescue practitioner Peter van den Steen said the company was concluding the implementation of the business rescue process.
“We are close to the implementation of business rescue. I expect it to happen shortly,” Van den Steen said.
Van den Steen said while the company was awaiting regulatory approval, it was “business as usual”.
“We are waiting for approval from the Independent Communications Authority of SA for transfer of the electronic communications services licences. This is one of the hurdles that is holding us back,” Van den Steen added.
He declined to comment on the court action by the disgruntled shareholders.
StarSat will introduce the new channels in phases, which will make up a revised range of programme bouquets. - Business Report