Cape Town – StarSat's signal has abruptly gone down on Monday afternoon and has stayed off without any explanation to angry StarSat subscribers as to what happened and caused it at the satellite pay-TV platform run by On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes Media SA.
On Monday afternoon and all through Monday night StarSat subscribers across South Africa complained that they could no longer access the troubled Woodmead-based satellite TV operator's services, that StarSat decoder resets didn't work and that the StarSat call centre was also unavailable.
StarSat subscribers nationwide – from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and East London to the Free State and across Gauteng – started complaining on Monday afternoon at 15:00 about the loss of signal and not being able to receive any TV channels they've paid for.
Complaints continued to roll in on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile there was no explanation or communication from StarSat at all to irate StarSat subscribers who said StarSat's call centre number of 086 086 7827 wasn't working. On Monday StarSat's fax number also went dead.
When ringing StarSat's call centre, a recorded message on Monday and on Tuesday morning only says: "Sorry, the dialed number is unobtainable".
On Tuesday morning a StarSat spokesperson told Channel24 there is a technical problem. According to the spokesperson the StarTimes channels went dead on Monday but were fixed.
However complaints from StarSat subscribers unable to access the service at all and getting a signal continued on Tuesday morning.
"StarSat can you please give us an explanation so that we should know what is happening?" asked StarSat subscriber Moses Chauke, echoing the sentiment of shocked and angry StarSat subscribers.
"No signal on any channel. Tried phoning, all numbers are unobtainable. Sounds like StarSat has gone belly up? Refund money please. Waste of time to carry on with a provider who loses channels and promises to replace them," said Anthea Enstrom of the pay-TV operator which is still in business rescue.
"Why is there no signal and why don't you answer?" asked Charmaine Kleinhans.
"What on Earth is going on at StarSat?" asked subscriber Desigan Reddy. "Put my TV on and no signal. Service poor as usual. Can't even contact your call centre. Poor, extremely poor".
"I brought a StarSat decoder on Sunday. The Installer came yesterday to do the installation. He found the signal but there are no channels," said Sihle Ndlovu.
E-mail addresses not working
Subscribers complained that e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com no longer worked.
Media enquiries sent by e-mail to ODM on Monday and again on Tuesday morning also failed to go through, although a StarSat spokesperson reached early on Tuesday by phone said there is a technical problem.
StarSat's last tweet on Monday was ironically, "They save us, but who saves them?" in relation to the firefighting drama series Rescue Me.
ODM and StarTimes Media SA's channel and signal loss comes two weeks after MultiChoice and M-Net has a massive technical failure due to a power failure during which all the M-Net supplied channels and SuperSport channels on DStv went dark on Saturday 11 April.
ODM launched the TopTV service commercially in May 2010 but soon ran intro trouble.
Urgently needing more cash to stay afloat, it entered business rescue by October 2012 which it has been in ever since, despite China's StarTimes Media which came onboard as an investor in April 2013. It started with a major restructuring of the company which saw it relaunched the damaged TopTV brand as StarSat in December 2013.
Although it hugely damaged the TopTV brand and the company's public reputation, On Digital Media launched a pornographic bouquet of sex channels – something the company promised at its launch in May 2010 it would never do – in November 2013.
Last month ODM and StarTimes Media SA lost a lengthy and costly court battle when the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed – with cost – StarSat’s appeal over its hardcore porn channels which the Western Cape High Court at the end of 2014 ordered off the air.
Since it launched in May 2010, TopTV and later StarSat has faced an ongoing uphill battle – from a double debit order run scandal in February 2011, repeated in April 2012, to the abrupt loss of various TV channels, technical problems and blackouts of certain channels and technical problems with the introduction of the new StarSat decoders imported from China.
Even after the StarSat rebrand at the end of 2013 when ODM switched its satellite transponder uplinking of channels from Germany to Beijing, StarSat subscribers' complaints continued.
Subscribers were unhappy with the bad TV signal quality, StarSat's chaotic electronic programme guide (EPG) broken promises over new TV channels, complaining about "non-existent" call centre customer service.
Into 2015 StarSat subscribers continued to complain about the bad transmission quality of certain channels, complaining that some channels suffer from ongoing bad sound and degrading video pixelation problems, while some channels like FOX Crime would go black or have the channel freeze up for hours.
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