StarTimes wins out in TopTV acquisition bid
Rebecca Hawkes | 03-05-2013

China's StarTimes has won the bid for South African pay-TV platform TopTV after a vote from shareholders and creditors of the indebted company on 30 April.

TopTV, the second pay-TV licence-holder in South Africa, has sought financial help since its owner On Digital Media entered business rescue proceedings last October.

A late bid to challenge that of StarTimes had come from the Dynamic TV consortium, financially backed MultiChoice – which in turn is owned by media giant Naspers and is the operator of TopTV's South African pay-TV rival DStv.

The Wanachi Group from Kenya, which operates a broadcasting network in East African countries including Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Malawi, had also been in the fray to acquire the beleaguered broadcast platform.

TopTV, which was launched in May 2010, failed to attract the 500,000 subscribers its break-even point required. A long battle to transmit adult content was won last month, when the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa finally granted permission for three pornographic channels to be added to its bouquet.

The rescue plan from China's StarTimes was reportedly adopted by 93.9% of creditors, which included a 100% vote from preference shareholders including the Development Bank of Southern Africa, satellite company SES, the Industrial Development Corporation and the National Empowerment Fund. Meanwhile, 99.3% of the ordinary shareholders favoured the now binding plan.

StarTimes is already a pay-TV operator in 16 African countries with 7 million subscribers in its home nation.