Former pay-TV service TopTV (and owned by On Digital Media) has revealed it will relaunch as StarSat. On Digital Media (ODM) and that its acquisition by the China-backed Star Times Group is in the process of being concluded.
The vote in favour of the take-over and shift from the local equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection was made by creditors and shareholders back in April. “This is a legally binding process that allows for the company to continue to operate in the normal cause of business and to be restructured within the protective bubble of business rescue as per Chapter 6 of the Companies Act,” ODM said in a press statement.
The relaunch as StarSat will take place on December 1st. The new platform offers revised programme bouquets at what ODM says are competitive rates, with more channels in each package. Existing TopTV customers will still be able to receive the StarSat signal on their old TopTV decoder, while those who wish to upgrade to the HD decoder can do so.
Interim ODM CEO Eddie Mbalo says while the company is launching an HD decoder, the channels are not HD as yet. “This was a forward-looking move, as we will be rolling out HD channels gradually, starting soon.” Mbalo says the entry of StarSat into the pay-TV market “promises a new viewing experience”. The new service will offer a much wider range of content than before, including NatGeo Gold, Fox International and Bollywood channels. The much disputed adult bouquet, supplied by Playboy TV, says Mbalo, will also be available from the start of StarSat.
However, ODM is also currently embroiled in a legal dispute with some of its former shareholders, and with minority investors having on October 21st launched an application in the South Gauteng High Court with the aim of preventing business rescue plan deal with StarTimes from going through.
Peter van den Steen, the business rescue practitioner of On Digital Media has formally noted that First National Media Investment Holdings (20.4 per cent shareholder) and Atchuthanandan Moodley (0.7 per cent ) with a combined holding of 21.1 per cent , were seeking interdictory relief against him and ODM, preventing the practitioner from taking any steps to implement the business rescue plan.
StarTimes has entered into a 10-year contract with SES Astra for satellite capacity, and enjoyed more than 2.5 million digital terrestrial subscribers across Africa.