TopTV Shutters Two Channels, Issues Rescue Plan


JOHANNESBURG: The struggling South African pay-TV service TopTV has shuttered two of its channels—Top Movies +24 and Top Junior—as it works to stay afloat.

The platform, which competes with DStv, is operated by On Digital Media, which this week unveiled a "business rescue plan" for the company after announcing that it was in financial distress at the end of last year.

As part of the rescue plan, China’s StarTimes, which already operates digital television services in 13 African countries, has made a bid to acquire 20 percent of the platform.

The business rescue plan lists the "operational deficiencies" that StarTimes has identified at TopTV, including a lack of scale, low quality programs, high costs, "inappropriate packaging," high churn rate and "insufficient management experience." StarTimes is looking to correct these issues as a strategic partner, with plans to inject cash and human capital, expand the sub base and "rattle" the market dominated by DStv. StarTimes has already begun speaking with content suppliers about renegotiating licensing deals for when the company has emerged from the business rescue plan.

If the StarTimes deal does not proceed, the company will have to be liquidated, according to the business rescue plan. Creditors and shareholders are due to meet on April 26 to consider the proposal.