TopTV relaunches as StarSat

Rebecca Hawkes | 05-11-2013

StarSat, a new pay-TV platform for South Africa, is rising from the ashes of beleaguered TopTV following a rescue deal forged between On Digital Media (ODM) and China's Star Times.

The new network, which proposes to air 90 channels and a standalone Playboy adult bouquet, "promises a new viewing experience" when it begins transmission on 1 December 2013, said Eddie Mbalo, chief executive of ODM.

StarSat hopes to gain an additional 700,000 customers a year and build on TopTV's existing subscriber base of 100,000 homes, according to local reports. Like TopTV before it, it will compete with DStv, the service provided by South Africa's other pay-TV licensee MultiChoice.

TopTV customers will be able to receive StarSat programming with their existing set-top boxes, though new high definition decoders will also be available for those who wish to upgrade or take out new subscriptions.

Star Times now holds 20% of the venture, as part of ODM's business rescue plan after it was voted on and adopted by its creditors and shareholders on 30 April 2013. Minority investors have, however, launched an application in the South Gauteng High Court to attempt to block the acquisition by Star Times.