Tag Archives: MultiChoice

MultiChoice backs coronavirus battle

Pay TV company MultiChoice Nigeria has pledged millions of naira as part of a commitment to support the federal government in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

John Ugbe

The firm has committed up to N400m to a salary fund to support creative professionals during the crisis.

In addition, MultiChoice is providing cash support of N200m to the federal government and N50m to Lagos state, and has donated 10,000 test kits to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

It has also committed N550m worth of inventory to airing public-service announcements on virus prevention tips in English, pidgin, Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa languages on more than 10 channels across its DStv and GOtv platforms.

Adewunmi Ogunsanya, chairman of MultiChoice Nigeria, said: “We are doing this because we recognise the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has on Nigerians and the economy. We hope our contributions to NCDC, the federal and state Governments, alongside other donations, will go a long way towards effective management of the outbreak.”

MultiChoice Nigeria CEO John Ugbe added: “The creative industry salary payment of up to N400m will offer a much-needed financial reprieve for producers, actors, and technical talent currently contracted to MultiChoice Nigeria, whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic.”

MultiChoice said the move was in line with its values as a responsible corporate organisation and leader in the media and creative sector whose aim is to support the authorities in fighting the pandemic and reducing its attendant impact on Nigeria’s economy.

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MultiChoice sets up Easter TV channel

Pay TV operator MultiChoice will launch a special Easter weekend pop-up TV channel on April 9.

This African Easter channel is being organised by TBN Africa and is designed for Christian viewers who subscribe to DStv Premium, Compact Plus, Family and Access.

Its aim is to provide religious content to viewers who cannot attend church services because of the national lockdown caused by the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa and also broadcast content for various Christian denominations who celebrate Easter.

Lucky Mbiko, TBN’s MD, says the channel is “partnering with churches and some of the biggest gospel artists to bring you the best Easter worship experience to as many viewers as possible. Join us on the African Easter channel 343 on DStv for four days during the Easter weekend.”

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice Group’s CEO, said the pay TV operator will assist millions of South African worshippers who regard Easter as a pivotal period of worship.

“As a responsible broadcaster, we are more than happy to partner with the department of communications and digital technologies as we afford worshippers to observe Easter from the comfort of their homes,” said Mawela.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, South Africa’s minister of communications and digital technologies, said the department appreciates MultiChoice’s move.

The programmes will be aired on channel 343 and will broadcast music programmes, sermons, church services and religious programming until Easter Monday April 13.

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DStv, GOtv expand content offerings

MultiChoice-owned pay TV platforms DStv and GOtv have re-organised their content offerings to help subscribers stay up to date with information regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Africanews will now be available on GOtv Max and Plus, while educational channels Da Vinci and Mindset and kids’ entertainment net Cartoon Network  will be on DStv Access until the end of May to help engage young viewers.

Nickelodeon (Channel 305) has also been opened up to DStv Compact, Family and Access subscribers until April 14.

In addition, library sports content is being made more widely available. Select 4 will be opened to compact customers to re-live English Premier League football, while Select 5 will showcase past WWE content.

MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela said: “We have been in constant communication with health authorities such as the World Health Organisation and we will be rolling out Africa-wide public service announcements on Covid-19. It is important that all of us take heed of the announcements and advice from trusted experts so that we can look after our own health and that of our loved ones.

“In light of the disruptions to the school year in some markets, we are also working to provide access to the best available educational content, to help keep young minds stimulated and engaged.”

MultiChoice has also moved to reassure its staff during the pandemic. “We are taking great care for our staff during this time and have encouraged those that are able to work from home to do so,” said Mawela.

“In light of this, we have advised our customers that there may be a delay in our ability to attend to customer queries. However, we have a number of self-service and online platforms available, and we will do our best to sort out any issues they may have, timeously.”

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Ultimate Love to conclude early

Pay TV operator MultiChoice has decided to cut short reality show Ultimate Love because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The show began airing on February 9 and had been due to run for eight weeks, but will now come to an end this Sunday. Today is the last day viewers can vote on the series.

MultiChoice said: “While we know the show has garnered appreciable fans and viewers across Africa, it has become pertinent for us to join the ongoing efforts by the government and global public health officials to flatten the curve against the coronavirus.”

The concluding part of the show will be broadcast on DStv channel 198 and GOtv channel 29.

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Africanews added to DStv, GOtv

Pan-African news channel Africanews has been made available on MultiChoice’s DStv and GOtv in more than 40 countries across Africa, including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Angola.

Launched in 2016 from Pointe-Noire, Congo, the channel is a subsidiary of Euronews Groupnow. It now reaches 20 million homes across the continent, offering a range of programmes on culture, lifestyle, sport, business, travel and science and technology.

Euronews CEO Michael Peters said: “Amid the current Covid-19 crisis, Euronews and Africanews’ mission has never been so important: helping people access real-time, up-to-date information, empowering them to make sense of what’s going on in the world by presenting a diversity of viewpoints.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the MultiChoice group once again to offer their DStv and GOtv subscribers access to Africanews, after Euronews launched on DStv last November. Euronews and Africanews have always been recognised and valued for their fact-based impartial and independent newsgathering. In these times of uncertainty, millions of more people in Africa will now have access to these trusted sources of information.”

Yolisa Phahle, CEO MultiChoice Group Africa, added: “In these unprecedented times, the importance of having access to precise, reliable information becomes paramount for our customers and their families. We have increased access to news channels already, and the launch of Africanews confirms our commitment to doing all we can to provide the best possible service.”

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MultiChoice to drop ITV channel

Pay TV operator MultiChoice is to remove British entertainment channel ITV Choice from its offering at the end of May after five years on its DStv platform.

Although the channel stopped broadcasting across the Middle East and Asia in August 2019, it has continued to air in South Africa.

An ITV Choice spokesman said: “DStv has decided that ITV’s international TV channel, ITV Choice, will no longer be carried on the DStv platform in Africa from June 4, 2020. The ITV brand will continue as a video-on-demand service in other territories.”

The news follows the removal of A+E Networks UK channels Lifetime, History and Crime+Investigation from MultiChoice’s offering in October 2019.

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DStv Now service to stream online

MultiChoice’s DStv Now

Pay TV company MultiChoice is to offer live streaming of its DStv channels to almost all subscribers for three days from this Friday.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, DStv Compact, Compact Plus, Access and Family customers will be able to stream the channels via the DStv Now site or app.

All subscribers except for those on the EasyView package will have access to unlimited entertainment, news, documentary and sports content that is usually exclusively for DStv Premium customers.

The three-day initiative is an attempt to test whether MultiChoice servers can handle a large influx of DStv viewers logging in and using the streaming platform for concurrent live streams. Last year, the service crashed during the final season of Game of Thrones and some Rugby World Cup matches.

MultiChoice plans to introduce a streaming version of its DStv service that is similar to DStv Now, with the launch expected soon.

In November 2019, MultiChoice’s connected video CEO, Niclas Ekdahl, said the company hoped to have the standalone DStv Now service ready by the end of this month.

“I think the stuff that we’ve done on DStv Now in the past 12 months is actually bringing us much closer to saying, ‘Yeah, this is a service I can stand behind’, and that this is going to be delivering a seamless user journey for our consumers,” Ekdahl said.

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Awards to go ahead despite virus fears

African pay TV group MultiChoice has revealed that it will still go on with the production of two of its own award shows in Nigeria despite coronavirus cases being confirmed in Nigeria and South Africa.

The ceremonies, the 2020 DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards (MVCAs) in South Africa and the seventh Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs), are both set to be held on March 14.

According to MultiChoice: “Next Saturday’s live televised award ceremonies are both still a go and we are monitoring the situation closely and taking it day by day.”

No events or productions have been cancelled or scaled back. Production is also continuing on M-Net’s eighth season of Survivor South Africa, entitled Survivor SA: Immunity Island, while BBC Studios Africa is continuing with a media event and press screening on Saturday of its new documentary series Seven Worlds, One Planet, coming to BBC Earth (DStv 184).

South African public broadcaster e.tv News, eNCA, MultiChoice, M-Net and StarSat are yet to make any public statements about what they might be doing differently in light of the coronavirus and its spread across the continent.

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MultiChoice blamed for SA digital delay

Former South Africa communications minister Yunus Carrim has blamed pay TV company MultiChoice for the slow progress of the country’s migration to digital.

Yunus Carrim

In his testimony to SA’s Zondo Commission, an ongoing judicial inquiry into political corruption, Carrim claimed a hefty R553m (US$35m) deal between MultiChoice and pubcaster SABC was intended to ensure the latter’s support in the pay TV giant’s anti-encryption strategy.

MultiChoice has long been opposed to signal encryption, and Carrim said this was because it would make it easier for rivals like E.tv to enter the African pay TV market and compete with its DStv pay service.

To prevent that from happening, the company inserted a clause into its SABC agreement that ensured the public broadcaster followed its stance on encryption, according to Carrim.

The former communications minister said MultiChoice’s then CEO, Imtiaz Patel, made it clear that the clause was a deal-breaker.

“This, for me, is a very clear example of regulatory or policy capture whereby irregular means are used to shape government policy. There is absolutely no reason to include, in a commercial transaction between the SABC and DStv, a clause which deals with government policy on encryption,” Carrim said.

Joe Heshu

“Lobbying by MultiChoice was very primitive. Very backward. It is not consistent with the social democracy we are. It has caused a huge setback to the digital migration process. It suits them because they can retain their monopoly.

“The delay in digital migration and the subsequent allocation of valuable new spectrum to operators is costing South Africa dearly.”

In response, Joe Heshu, MultiChoice group executive for corporate affairs, said Carrim’s allegations were baseless.

“MultiChoice and its officials deny these allegations. Carrim confirmed under oath that he cannot attest to having personal knowledge of any fraud or corruption in respect of the SABC/MultiChoice agreement.

“We have informed the Zondo Commission that we will respond to the allegations made against us in due course and reserve all of our rights.”

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MultiChoice unveils innovation fund

Pay TV company MultiChoice has launched an innovation fund aimed at helping small businesses in the video entertainment industry and technology sectors.

Calvo Mawela

An extension of MultiChoice’s existing enterprise development trust, established in 2012, the fund will enable innovators to bring their ideas and dreams to life.

Focusing on businesses led by young people and women, the new fund will address the gender gap and youth unemployment in South Africa while ensuring increased and sustained diversity and inclusion in industries such as tech, film and media. Part of the goal of the innovation fund is to expand on the 11 women-owned and four-youth-owned businesses it has already supported.

Calvo Mawela, MultiChoice group CEO, said: “The video entertainment industry and indeed the world as we know it is on a fascinating digital trajectory and we need to ensure we are ahead of the pack if the continent’s entertainment industry is going to continue to grow sustainably and be globally competitive.

“We anticipate that our innovation fund will spur original thinking and exciting new ideas that will lead to breakthrough moments for these growing entrepreneurs.”

According to MultiChoice, successful beneficiaries will be afforded relevant financial support tailored to the specific circumstances of each case.

“We want to partner with South Africa’s most exciting entrepreneurs, giving them the tools, skills and financial support to bring their original ideas to life,” Mawela added.

“We hope to help create cutting-edge solutions and competitive businesses that will shape the future of South Africa’s technology sector and the video entertainment industry. By investing in and developing entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas, MultiChoice is helping to shape the industries of the future.”

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A+E Networks names regional manager

Nazarene Khan, head of marketing and sponsorship at A+E Networks Africa, has been promoted to regional manager following the departure of Yusuf Nabee.

Nazarene Khan

Nabee, who was made the general manager in May 2016, is leaving the US cabsat broadcaster following the channel carriage dispute that occurred in late 2019 between A+E Networks UK and pay TV platform MultiChoice in South Africa.

The dispute saw MultiChoice-owned DStv dropping A+E Networks’ History, Lifetime and Crime+Investigation channels in November 2019, though a new deal was later agreed to return History and Lifetime to the platform.

Adrian Pilkington, senior VP for commercial and strategy at A+E Networks for the Africa, Middle East, Nordics and the Benelix region, said: “Yusuf, who has been instrumental in establishing A+E’s local presence and building our brands, has decided the time is right to step down from his role.

Yusuf Nabee

“Nazarene Khan has been a key part of the team for the past few years and working alongside Fatime Kaba, our head of programming and scheduling, we have two very talented executives to build upon the foundation that Yusuf has created. I’m delighted to have her heading up our Africa team,” he added.

Khan was the head of marketing and sponsorship for the past two-and-a-half years at A+E Networks Africa. Prior to her appointment at A+E Networks, Khan worked at Urban Brew Studios and Glow TV.

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MultiChoice lays off 1,000-plus staff

Pay TV company MultiChoice has let go of more than 1,000 employees in its call centres and walk-in customer service sites in a bid to restructure its customer service delivery model.

 

The news comes after the company revealed it intended to retrench more than 2,000 of its staff in June last year.

MultiChoice had said that DStv subscribers were not fully utilizing the MultiChoice call centres while the walk-in customer service centres had fewer customer visits.

The company said it has shed just over 1 000 workers who accepted voluntary severance packages. Another 1,000 decided to accept various positions within the company’s structure.

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Government targets MultiChoice monopoly

The Nigerian government has moved to end pay TV group MultiChoice’s monopoly on broadcasting sporting events in the country.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the country’s minister of information and culture, has issued a directive to end the group’s exclusive right to air high-profile sports events and also urged the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to re-position the broadcasting industry.

In line with a report approved by president Muhammadu Buhari, the minister has instructed broadcasters and exclusive licensees to share previously exclusive rights with other broadcasters.

“This regulation prevents the misuse of monopoly, market power or anti-competitive and unfair practices by a foreign or local broadcaster to suppress other local broadcaster in the television and radio markets,” he said.

The move has “removed exclusivity from all content in Nigeria and mandated the sharing of all content upon the payment of commercially viable fees,” Mohammed added.

The breaking up of the monopoly will boost reach, maximise the utilisation by all broadcasters of premium content and grow their platforms and investment in other content, he said.

“Monopolies stunt growth, kill talents and discourage creativity. In the case of Nigeria, it’s the monopoly of content that breeds anti-competition practices. You cannot use your financial or whatever power to corner and hold on tight to a chunk of the market, preventing others from having access. Such monopolies are crumbling everywhere in the world and Nigeria cannot be left out,” said Mohammed.

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Africa Magic unveils reality series

MultiChoice-owned movie channel Africa Magic is launching four new TV reality shows aimed at creating platforms for sharing Africa’s stories as well as investing in the development of local content and talent.

Date My Family, Confessions and Unmarried began airing on January 5, 6 and 8 respectively, while Dr Laser will debut on January 10.

Date my Family is a 45-minute dating show that features a suitor who has to choose a winning date based on his experience with three different families of three potential dates. It will air until April 26.

Confessions is a 30-minute show that enables viewers to witness real-life confessions between siblings, friends and love interests.

Unmarried is a drama series that follows the lives of three friends who encounter challenges in their relationships, careers and dating lives.

Dr Laser is a medical reality show that showcases people undergoing plastic surgery in Nigeria. It reveals what inspires human decisions to undergo such procedures and the aftermath of their decisions. It will show until April 3.

Channel director Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu said: “Reality TV shows are extremely popular because they showcase real people experiencing real-life circumstances and situations, thus connecting with viewers and fans on a more personal and relatable level. Following the success of Big Brother Naija, Date My Family, Dr Laser, Confessions and Unmarried have been curated to address and confront real-life issues from the African perspective.”
The shows are aired on Africa Magic Showcase (channel 151).

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MultiChoice rebrands SA academy

Pay TV company MultiChoice Group has renamed its South African filmmaker development programme to bring it under the broader Talent Factory initiative.

Joe Heshu

The M-Net Magic in Motion academy, established in 2014 with the aim of revolutionising the South African TV and film industry by equipping young talent with skills, will now be known as MultiChoice Talent Factory South Africa.

Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s group executive for corporate affairs said: “MultiChoice wants its development programme to have a name that would not only resonate with the brand of the business but one that would also speak to the talent that is unearthed each year from the students who participate in the initiative.”

Rolled out in 2018, MultiChoice Talent Factory is aimed at empowering the next generation of film creatives and developing their skills.

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MultiChoice prepares for Ultimate Love

MultiChoice Nigeria has unveiled a new relationship-focused reality show, auditions for which are being held this month.

John Ugbe

Ultimate Love will see eight single men living with eight single women in a house in an isolated location for two months, with the participants hoping to find life-long love.

Paired up based on mutual attraction, the contestants will engage in series of locally inspired activities as they attempt to emerge as the ultimate couple.

Similarly to Big Brother, the housemates will be closely monitored by live television cameras and personal microphones as they interact daily with a counsellor.

Viewers will have the opportunity to vote off their least favourite couple on a weekly basis, while the winning couple will be rewarded with a lavish traditional wedding ceremony and a fully furnished home, among other prizes.

Single men and women aged 23 and above who have an active subscription to DStv or GOtv can register to take part in Ultimate Love by clicking here. Auditions are being held from November 22 to 30.

MultiChoice Nigeria CEO John Ugbe said: “Reality TV shows are immensely popular because they showcase real people experiencing real-life situations, thus connecting with viewers and fans on a personal and relatable level. There are fewer things realer than love, and Ultimate Love, our new and exciting reality show, celebrates this.

The show will air live, 24/7 on all DStv and select GOtv packages starting February 2020.

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DStv adds three factual channels

MultiChoice-owned pay TV operator DStv has added three factual channels to its line-up.

Yolisa Phahle

The new networks are CBS Justice, which will replace A+E Networks UK’s Crime + Investigation channel; factual entertainment net CuriosityStream, which was launched by Discovery founder John Hendricks; and Euronews, which returns to the platform it left a few years ago.

MultiChoice general entertainment CEO Yolisa Phahle said: “We’re thrilled to finally announce the launch of these channels that will expand the line-up of new programming for our DStv customers to enjoy.

“CuriosityStream will give our viewers informative entertainment that the family can enjoy together, and it’s with great pride that we are able to launch CBS Justice, a new true crime channel which is part of the CBS AMC Networks EMEA portfolio of channels. We’re also delighted to expand our viewers’ choice of news and actuality programming with Euronews.”

CuriosityStream will feature factual programming including original and exclusive films and series, with titles ranging from Deep Time History and The History of Food to Age of Big Cats and Breakthrough.

CBS Justice will feature a curated selection of original and acquired programming, including original productions The Real Prime Suspect, Donal MacIntyre’s Murder Files, Secrets of a Psychopath and Evidence of Evil; plus acquisitions Cold Justice, Fame Kills and Stalker.

Clint Stinchcomb, president and CEO of CuriosityStream, said: “CuriosityStream is thrilled to premiere on DStv, collaborating with MultiChoice as our inaugural bundled distribution partner in Africa. Viewers are hungry for high-quality, engaging and entertaining factual shows, and CuriosityStream is proud to offer our channel to this important media market.”

Louise Cottrell, senior VP, affiliate partnerships for AMC Networks International UK, added: “This new launch highlights the growing demand for true crime content in the region, and we are thrilled to offer MultiChoice’s DStv customers exclusive access to authentic documentaries and series for the first time on CBS Justice.”

Carolyn Gibson, chief revenue officer at Euronews, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with DStv to reach even more households on the African continent.”

 

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MNet scraps 2019 award shows

African pay TV group MultiChoice’s flagship channel MNet has announced it will not be televising two of its own award shows this year.

The Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCAs) and DStv Mzansi Viewers’ Choice Awards (DMVCAs) will not be aired due to the inability to find sponsors to share the production costs that come with mounting the shows.

The AMVCAs, which started in 2013 to promote and recognise African TV and film productions from across West, East and Southern Africa, had its sixth edition in September 2018 in Lagos. The DMVCAs, which began in 2017 to promote and recognise South Africa’s entertainment industry, had its second edition in November 2018.

According to MultiChoice Africa, the AMVCAs might return in the future while the DMVCAs will take place some time in 2020.

“The AMVCAs requires huge funding to make happen, as well as an alignment between the production, competition and commercial teams, as well as staging it in Nigeria, where there are limited venues capable of a production of this scale,” MultiChoice said.

 

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Patel takes MultiChoice non-exec role

Imtiaz Patel, executive chair of African pay TV group MultiChoice, will be switching to a non-executive role in October 2020.

Imtiaz Patel

The announcement was made shortly after MultiChoice revealed it had added 1.2 million active subscribers in the first half of 2019 and had also upped its operating profit to R4.9bn (US$328m) from R4.1bn in the previous period.

MultiChoice said Calvo Mawela, the group’s current CEO, will assume “full executive responsibility” after Patel’s move.

Patel joined MultiChoice subsidiary SuperSport in 1999 and in March 2005 was appointed CEO.

He was named group CEO of MultiChoice South Africa in 2010. In October 2015, he became CEO of video entertainment for parent company Naspers and then MultiChoice executive chairman early this year.

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DStv retains A+E Networks channels

MultiChoice Group’s pay TV operator DStv has announced it will no longer remove two A+E Networks EMEA channels from its platform.

Yolisa Phahle

The History and Lifetime channels will remain but Crime + Investigation has been cut off.

MultiChoice CEO Mark Rayner revealed the group has signed a new multi-year contract. “We’ve reached an agreement with A+E Networks for terms that we think are acceptable to our DStv subscribers for both History and Lifetime, but Crime + Investigation is still ending,” he said.

“Two further channels from another provider will be announced before the middle of November as a replacement for Crime + Investigation, as well as another factual documentary channel. We’re just finalising technical launch plans so that we can be clear on a launch date.”

Yolisa Phahle, MultiChoice Group CEO for general entertainment, added: “We are excited to have reached this agreement as it allows us to ensure we meet our commitment to get the best programming for our customers, based on commercial terms that make sense and provide a value for money offering to customers. We are pleased that Lifetime will also now be available to our Compact package customers.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience and feedback and have their best interests in mind as we continue to work hard to improve our entertainment offering.”

“We are pleased to have agreed a long-term renewal of our flagship brands, History and Lifetime, in Africa with our partner DStv. As part of this renewal, the new distribution of Lifetime in Compact presents an exciting opportunity to reach millions of new viewers with our unique programming offering”, said Dean Possenniskie, MD of A+E Networks EMEA.

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