DStv subscribers feel 'cheated' over blocked movie channel

2013-11-14 13:13
Cape Town – South Africa's most notable film critics are now weighing in on MultiChoice's decision to block the MGM movie channel (DStv 140) from DStv Premium subscribers – and at the same time subscribers are blasting DStv, saying they feel they’re "being cheated" by the South African satellite TV operator.

It’s the first time MultiChoice is not making a TV channel available on its most expensive bouquet, a move described as an “unprecedented decision”.

The notable and well-known South African film critic Leon van Nierop told Channel24 he finds MultiChoice's actions to block MGM from DStv Premium subscribers "strange".

MGM, supplied by Chello Zone in the United Kingdom and shown on competitor TopTV since May 2010 was made available on DStv since Tuesday afternoon but only to lower DStv packages – not to DStv Premium.

"I think if you're a top subscribers of DStv, that you have to receive all the available TV channels and entertainment," said Van Nierop.

"The price DStv Premium subscribers pay should also be inclusive of this channel. Especially MGM which has such a treasure chest of musicals and which comes with such a rich history of contributing to the film industry – it’s actually unmissable for movie lovers."

Blocking to spare subscribers repeats

The notable and famous South African film critic Barry Ronge told Channel24 that what would interest him is if the MGM channel went back and showed some of the "real black-and-white movies" MGM made and films such as MGM's Marie Antoinette and work of Alfred Hitchcock. "If it's that kind of thing, I would be grateful. I will have to see what they're offering."

Ronge said "the big thing for people right now is that they're paying a lot to see movies on DStv. And if they keep seeing them over and over again, it's not good. If a movie channel buys a tranche of movies with for instance Joan Crawford people will look at that.

"The success of The Great Gatsby with the original one which was black-and-white and with so many stellar performances that people then go back to, shows that there's a lot of people who relish the idea of watching classics. However it has to be the pick of the bunch otherwise you get stuck with some of those horrible crime and Westerns they throw in. Some of those MGM motion pictures were quite bad."

MGM movies that will show in November on the channel – which MultiChoice is not allowing DStv Premium subscribers to watch – include Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), Kings of the Sun (1964), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), Wuthering Heights (1970), Play Dirty (1969), The Alamo (1960) and many more DStv subscribers haven't seen in years, if ever.

In response to a media enquiry, MultiChoice said it’s blocking MGM from DStv Premium subscribers to spare them repeats.

"As MGM contains library content that has already been seen by our Premium customers, a decision was made not to include this channel on the Premium package," said MultiChoice.

The blocking of MGM from DStv Premium subscribers ironically comes in the same week in which MultiChoice is making all of its premium TV channels freely available to lower-tiered DStv subscribers as part of a marketing exercise. Yet MGM is not made available to Premium subscribers.

Livid subscribers feel they’re being cheated

DStv subscribers are livid about the MGM channel block and say they're "being cheated". They say MultiChoice should reduce the problem of repeats on existing channels instead of blocking an available TV channel.

DStv subscriber Gerald Umraw said: "I feel like many others that we are being cheated. I do not expect DStv to make decisions on my behalf when they suggest that DStv Premium customers will not like to watch repeats. What if I want to watch repeats of some movies that I enjoy? I suggest you reconsider your decision and make MGM available to Premium customers, after all that's the reason why you charge us R700 per month."

"Will this now become a norm where DStv will block certain channels from DStv Premium subscribers? This was never the case in the past, so I do not see why it has to be now. I am a DStv Premium subscriber like many others and expect the very best DStv has to offer," he said.

Cindy Morgan said "there's so many repeat channels that we can block for ourselves from our decoders, but give us the premium paying subscribers' choice to do so. Don't do it on our behalf. We have a right to the MGM channel."

Neldri Rabe said "as per the excuse that MGM will be showing things that were on DStv before, we are receiving CBS Drama and CBS Action that are showing shows so old they have been on the SABC channels ages ago. How does this work? Sorry but I don't agree with this. If we don't get all the channels as per what it should be – we are after all paying the premium rate – then you are going to start losing customers."

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