Disney's FOX channels set quietly flickers back to life on StarSat in Africa after 4 months following commercial disagreement and contract dispute.
27 February 2020
Disney has quietly returned its yanked FOX channels as well as the two rebranded ESPN channels to the Chinese-run StarSat pay-TV operator after an absence of four and a half months following a commercial disagreement and contract dispute.
The Walt Disney Company removed its entire FOX Networks Group channels set - FOX, FOX Life, FOX Portuguese, National Geographic, Nat Geo WILD, National Geographic Portuguese, Baby TV, Voyage, National Geographic French, and Nat Geo WILD French – from the Chinese-run StarTimes StarSat with the channels that abruptly went dark without warning in October 2019.
StarSat bizarrely claimed that it decided to remove specifically the FOX channels (although not FOX News) because of alleged "5G cellphone signal testing interference" affecting just these channels.
The Walt Disney Company however said that it decided to remove its channels from StarTimes/StarSat since it became fed-up with ongoing commercial issues at the pay-TV operator and decided to pull all of its FOX-supplied channels after negotiations had failed.
In addition, the FOX Sports and FOX Sports 2 channels that were rebranded to ESPN and ESPN following the Disney takeover of 21st Century Fox, failed to materialise as promised in mid-September on StarSat which caused huge embarrassment to both Disney and StarSat.
The FOX channel set quietly flickered back on StarSat on Thursday with no announcement from Evert van der Veer, the vice-president, media networks of The Walt Disney Company Africa or Christine Service, senior vice president of The Walt Disney Company Africa.
Jared Stokes, senior communications manager at The Walt Disney Company Africa said in response to a media enquiry on Thursday from TVwithThinus that the company won't issue a press release but that "We can confirm that our channels are currently being provided and are available on StarTimes/StarSat" and referred media enquiries to StarSat.
Disney was asked why the FOX channels and ESPN were returned to StarSat but didn't want to answer the specific questions.
In a mobile message sent to just subscribers on Thursday, StarSat said: "Dear Customer, all FOX channels are back on StarSat now".