Drama at TopTV as CEO negotiates exit


On Digital Media (ODM), owner of satellite pay-TV service TopTV, has confirmed the company’s board is in talks with CEO Vino Govender about a “mutual separation”. A source that spoke to the Mail & Guardian on condition of anonymity said that Govender would be leaving On Digital Media this week.

When approached to confirm this, On Digital Media chairman Eddie Mbalo said the board was in discussions with Govender about a “mutual separation” but these discussions were not concluded yet.

The pay-tv broadcaster will be celebrating its second birthday in May this year, but is unclear how successful its offering has been in gaining traction in the market.

Seven months after its launch on 1 May 2010, it signed up 200,000 subscribers but more recent figures for subscriber numbers have not been released. However, sources suggest the broadcaster may only have added a further 100,000 subscribers over 2011.

The initial channel packages saw TopTV offering a total of 55 channels in bouquets ranging from R99 to R249 per month. These prices have changed since the launch and new channels have also been added to TopTV’s offering. The basic package consisted of 25 channels.

Subscribers also have access to the four current terrestrial free-to-air channels run by the SABC and e.tv. Subscribers can opt to buy additional channel bouquets, including a 14-channel kids and music bouquet, an 11-channel family and knowledge bouquet and a seven-channel premium bouquet. One of the major problems the broadcaster faces is the lack of access to premium content such as sports and the latest movie releases. 
TopTV clashed with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) recently over plans to launch a bouquet of adult channels on its service. Icasa last week said it would not allow TopTV to offer the channels, and promised to furnish its reasons within 30 days of its decision.