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TopTV to lose Current TV

2012-01-13 07:17
Cape Town – The South African pay TV operator TopTV is set to lose another TV channel it launched with great fanfare – this time Current TV – as the news channel's operations in Britain are set to shut down as soon as mid-March.

TopTV has still not replaced the Hi Nolly and One Music channels which disappeared from the TopTV bouquet in November when the channel provider HiTV in Nigeria imploded under debt.

TopTV promised replacement channels but hasn't yet provided any. The loss of Current TV (TopTV channel 406) will be the third channel discontinued since TopTV launched in May 2010, further weakening TopTV's bouquet offering.

When TopTV launched in May 2010 it launched Current TV – a youth-skewed news channel largely focused on user-generated content and documentaries as one of the channels on the bouquet with great fanfare. Current TV was started by Al Gore in America who attended TopTV's launch party and did a press conference.


Current TV has a London operations and a separate British generated feed of Current TV which is the one South Africans are seeing on TopTV. Current TV is shown in Britain on the BSkyB pay TV platform. BSkyB is not renewing Current TV's contract due to what it calls low viewership and underperformance. According to Sky, Current TV is "one of the least watched TV channels".

"Despite investing significantly in Current TV since its UK launch in 2006, the channel simply hasn't made the impact with our customers that we hoped for. That is why we've decided not to renew our retail relationship," says Rob Webster, BSkyB's commercial director in a statement.

Current TV says that without the income from the BSkyB carriage deal, Current TV will have to close which is effectively shutting the channel down. Current TV has told its 23 staff members, contractors and programme suppliers that Current TV could close as soon as the middle of March.

"Sky is shutting down an intelligent alternative to mass market programming," said Joel Hyatt, the chief executive of Current Media, which owns Current UK, in a statement.

TopTV didn't immediately respond to media enquiries made regarding the future of Current TV on the pay TV operator's platform but said it's working on a response.

Read more on:    toptv  |  al gore  |  tv

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