Channels that enchant, charm

In the world of satellite television, Top TV can sometimes seem like the red-headed stepchild of a TV audience. But with two years in the broadcasting game, the Pay-TV network has moved from programming strength to strength – even if they repeat shows way too often. Helen Herimbi looks at the good, the bad and the firsts on Top TV in 2012.

The Good

ZAA News.

I’ll be the first to admit that when Black Entertainment Television was cancelled from the DStv bouquet, I was saddened. Where else would we be able to see 106 & Park? Then, a few years later, Top TV came onto the scene and resurrected BET.

Even though it wasn’t the same stream as what the Americans get. But have no fear, because what airs in Mzansi is a mere few days later than what airs in America.

So when awards shows like Black Girls Rock and the BET Awards as well as the BET Hip Hop Awards take place in America, we got to see them in their entirety a short time later.

Which was still earlier than when MTV Base (which is BET’s sister channel under Viacom) got hip top in and decided to air the BET Hip Hop Awards too. Fox Retro is also a favourite channel of mine because it airs the kind of shows that were once available in Zulu in simulcast.

From Twin Peaks to Stargate Atlantis and Star Trek, you can finally take that trip down memory lane.

The Bad

There’s no way we can have this category and not discuss funding.

As you may have heard by now, Top TV are to put a “business rescue plan” in place so that it doesn’t go out 1Time airlines style.

Digital Media, who are the holding company for Top TV, are said to be looking for a new equity partner to inject some cash into the business.

It goes without saying, even though I’m about to say it, that without the money, they will go under and we’ll have to say goodbye to all our favourite TV shows. Now that that’s out of the way, can we just take care of the repeat situation.

It’s great to have Top Movies +2 and Top Movies +24 so that you have not only two hours but a whole new day to catch up on the awesome selection of movies on offer, but no one wants to see that one episode of I Love New York – you know the one where she gets dumped on air – a gazillion times and Tracee Ellis-Ross and Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s Reed Between the Lines was the definite dud of the year.

Lastly, if Top TV could just decide on a time when they say they’ll air something and stick to it? That would be great.

The Firsts

Aside from downloading the Love and Hip Hop reality show, where else would South Africans have caught up with the shenanigans of Somaya Reece, Chrissy and ’em?

Not only does Top One air the uncensored version of the show that centres around hip hop wives and girlfriends and female rappers, but they broadcasted both seasons of the highly entertaining show.

Mary Mary, the gospel outfit who have a reality show of the same name, were also in a Top One first. Obviously, The Walking Dead is one of the biggest highlights of the year because the zombie show is the most watched series on Top TV.

This highly successful show has its moments and has proven to be a more enjoyable show, for me, than Copper, the 1860s crime drama that was also a Top TV first.

The hilarious ZA News, which is a local production that sees animated news figures be a part of a not-so-fictional news and politics show has had a good run and earns another hat tip for original programming.

So was their daily reality show, Sugarush – which needs some work – as well as Top Entertainment which is self-explanatory and Real Issues On Top which is rather morbid but interesting at times.

When Top TV was just an idea in On Digital Media’s collective mind, there must have been plenty of naysayers. But if the TV industry was a book of fairytales, Top TV would be Cinderella. Now if that new equity partner would just hurry up with that glass slipper…