TopTV needs cash

2012-03-20 12:44
Thinus Ferreira
Cape Town – TopTV's previous CEO had no broadcasting experience and the struggling pay TV operator needs cash.

Eddie Mbalo, the interim CEO of TopTV, who took over from Vino Govender following a much publicised and controversial pornography channels push, told Jeremy Maggs of Maggs on Media that  "this was someone who had no background in broadcasting television at all".

"Maybe we should not have launched at the time when we did. Launching at that time came with its own challenges.

"The response from the public was great and I think we got overwhelmed. Vino [Govender] was great for the launch but I think now we’ve got to take it to the next level."

Mbalo said TopTV currently has "about 360 000 decoders out there. We have about 140 000 to 150 000 paying subscribers on a daily basis."

More money

When asked about the financial health of TopTV, he said: "We need cash at the moment. We are not in a cash crisis, but moving forward we might have to go to our shareholders and ask for more money."

MultiChoice not playing fair

Mbalo said he doesn't see MultiChoice's DStv platform as competition.

"I don't even see MultiChoice as our competitor. We look at a specific segment of the market and that is not MultiChoice's market."

He accused MultiChoice of not playing fair, saying "the regulator and the government allowed for a second pay TV operator and then they used their dominance to actually try and crush any other player".

Maggs asked him to explain and he said MultiChoice tried to crush TopTV by launching the cheap DStv Lite bouquet. "We think that was trying to anticipate our launch", saying "that wasn’t fair play".

He said TopTV is looking at MultiChoice's content acquisition strategies, their sports acquisitions, "at how they've managed to close access to content, locally but also internationally."

He said TopTV is however not talking to the Competition Commission.

"We are at the moment looking at our own business, we're looking at the weaknesses, and the opportunities that exist and that is our focus at this time.

"Content is what keeps people watching. People are excited to buy the decoder but once they tune in, if the content doesn't appeal and resonate with their emotions, then we have to relook. We should become an alternative to what is available."

Porn possibly still an option

Maggs asked Mbalo whether TopTV has thoroughly researched subscribers about the need for the pornographic channels which TopTV planned to launch, but the application was denied by the broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

"We're getting feedback. We have not gone out to do scientific research but we’re looking at the feedback we're getting. People want choice," said Mbalo.

He said the TopTV board and shareholders will decide of TopTV is again going to try and make a push for the porn bouquet and appeal the Icasa decision.

"That decision will be made by the board."

Mbalo said: "Pursuing commercial advertising should not be our focus at this point in time. Our focus at this point is to acquire more subscribers and to retain the ones we have. 

"If we provide current subscribers the content that they want to see … the truth of the matter is South Africans want to see more of themselves, so local content is an area where we are going to be competitive."


  • Leon - 2012-03-20 13:16

    Stop the Multichoice clone attitude and give the market what they want. Change your bouquet to a "I choose what i want in my bouquet" and drop the channels nobody wants. Then you will get all multichoices viewers. Believe me 90% of the viewers don't like the choice Top TV and Multichoice dish up. Give the viewer the choice.

      thomasbearings - 2012-03-21 13:50

      I agree wholeheartedly. Give us a choice of channels. Mervyn Thomas.

  • jim.dickson2 - 2012-03-20 13:36

    With all the repeats on Multichoice it is not all it is cracked up to be. If Top TV dish up as many repeats they will get nowhere as well.

      bbygrl52 - 2012-03-20 13:47

      Oh Jim...believe me it's even worse and i hate how they discontinue channels without consulting subscribers...

      Kent - 2012-03-20 14:44

      @jim.dickson2 And remember what the new CEO said: "I don't even see MultiChoice as our competitor." What an epic fail not to recognise your competition.

  • Grant - 2012-03-20 13:41

    Multi choice just increased their subscription fees, doesn't that mean that they also need cash?

  • Jay - 2012-03-20 14:31

    Dear Mr Eddie Mbalo, About 3 years ago, I think it was in the infantcy of your Launch Set Up Phase, I was turned down for a Senior Regional Sales post because, as per the Head-Hunting Recruiter, "I was not Black Enough". Also that COSATU has a vested interest in your TV Station, I should be a BLACK EMPLOYEE. That was when I knew this Pay TV Station will fail like ALL BBBEE / AFFIRMATIVE / POILTICALLY DRIVEN Enterprises. Seems Vino Govender was " Black Enough". Well, please be informed that I was very instrumental in the 1994 /1995 Launch Phase of PACE SATELLITE DECODERS with MULTICHOICE. TOP TV deserves what it is facing, THANKS to your Policies. Good Luck & Hope you many more years of STRUGGLES vs MULTICHOICE. I Rest My Case.

  • wcslater - 2012-03-20 14:40

    The title should read, "TopTV needs better channels""

  • phathuchicos - 2012-03-20 16:56

    we want privilliage of choosing channels then we'll be right behind you...finish n klaar...

  • Ken - 2012-03-20 17:32

    You need to use the head on your shoulders and not the one in your pants if you think PORN will rescue the situation. Only the SPORTS channels are keeping Multichoice alive. I cancelled mine because of repeatsA,repeats,repeats, ala SABC. If you need to imitate Multichoice, then allow subscribers to CHOOSE. Dont dictate.

  • Nurse - 2012-03-21 13:18

    Set up the porn channels and I emphasize the plural you will be rolling in the dough. Give the people what they want and F the prudes.

  • paul.prinsloo3 - 2012-03-21 13:49

    Having no experience is the only prerequisite required for top jobs nowadays

  • Andre - 2012-03-21 22:58

    Top TV cannot be competition for DSTV .Just another glorified SABC

  • William - 2012-03-22 14:18

    DSTV are not stupid!!! If they allowed people to purchase only the channels they wanted then they would loose BILLIONS!!! That is why you have to pay the maximum premium to get all the good sport channels, while having to endure 90% rubbish!! All most people are interested in are international test matches/super 15 etc!! I hope the competition commission nails them to open up individual channels for subscription. They of course claim that it costs them loads to buy the rights to the sport's events. But they would still make loads of dosh!!!

  • Bill - 2012-04-02 14:12

    Does anyone have TOPTV in the Dullstroom area? I am desperate to watch the Scottish football this Saturday afternoon (Celtic v Kilmarnock)please email Thank you

  • William - 2012-05-12 06:18

    The reason why I got DSTV is because of the idiotic local content on SABC and e.TV that only caters for a certain population group in SA. And that's how many feels out there. I will never consider signing up for TopTV if local content is what's on your future plans. And why don't you improve your installation service? My cousin waited for 8days on an agent from TopTV to install her service before she cancelled her account, my DSTV was installed the same day.

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