TopTV still at risk
October 14, 2014
By Chris Forrester
South Africa’s TopTV went for the local version of Chapter 11 almost a year ago, but new owners Star Times Group says South Africa’s slow approach to its new owners is now putting the comlete venture at risk.
TopTV has changed its name to StarSat, and Star Times’ chairman Xinxing Pang says that despite the formal business rescue of the pay-TV broadcasters, subscribers have been lost and the extremely lengthy business rescue still has to be finalised.
South Africa’s foreign ownership laws (for broadcasters) limit the stake China’s Star Times Group can hold to just 20 per cent. Consequently Star Times has been somewhat hamstrung in what it can do despite it owning 65 per cent of the economic interest in the broadcaster.
Xinxing, speaking to South Africa’s Times newspaper, said it was time for South Africa’s ICASA regulator to change the rules. “We believe this [foreign shareholding cap] was made 20 years ago. We fully understand at that time it was to protect sovereignty and independence of this country. But as time has gone by there’s been a lot of change in the industry.”
Star Times Group now operates in 13 African countries and is building up a reputation as a strong competitor to Multichoicein some African markets, and has invested some $400 million in its various digital TV enterprises.