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    Wednesday, April 10, 2024

    MultiChoice Responds to WildEarth's Threat to Pull Channel from DStv

    MultiChoice has slammed WildEarth’s decision to pull its channel from DStv, accusing the company of publicly pressuring MultiChoice into helping it with funding.

    This comes after WildEarth, which airs live game drives or “safaris” primarily from the Djuma Game Reserve in Mpumalanga, confirmed that it would remove its channel at the end of April due to a lack of support from MultiChoice.

    “After thorough discussions, MultiChoice entered into a channel distribution agreement, providing both support and guidance to WildEarth,” said MultiChoice.

    “This non-exclusive agreement allowed WildEarth to showcase its content across various platforms beyond DStv, including YouTube and its own website.”

    In an open letter from WildEarth chair André Crawford-Brunt, the company expressed its dissatisfaction with the existing arrangements and announced the company’s decision to remove the channel from DStv on 30 April 2024.

    “While we respect WildEarth’s decision regarding platform availability, it is disappointing that WildEarth is seeking to publicly pressure MultiChoice into providing additional commercial support,” said MultiChoice.

    “MultiChoice will not comment further on this matter and wishes WildEarth success in its future endeavours.”

    In his letter, Crawford-Brunt attributed the decision to pull the channel to a lack of support from MultiChoice.

    He said it isn’t viable for the company to continue airing its content on DStv without compensation.

    “We have been begging MultiChoice for over a year to support us. We have made the case that not paying us anything for our content is unsustainable for us — although great for them,” said Crawford-Brunt.

    “We told them we have a large and passionate viewership, long viewing times, and that we represent everything positive about South Africa.”

    “We reminded them that we are the largest producer of local content in the country.”

    He added that MultiChoice had made a commitment to help WildEarth with funding, which it failed to uphold.

    Many of the channel’s viewers launched petitions and a fundraising campaign following WildEarth’s announcement. As of 28 March 2024, these customers had raised nearly R5 million.

    Citing this level of support, Crawford-Brunt said the removal of the channel could have a significant impact on MultiChoice.

    “MultiChoice, and their potentially soon-to-be new owners Canal+, should read the thousands of comments on the petition and social media,” he wrote.

    “Many of you are the same people who pay monthly DStv subscriptions, and indirectly, their salaries. Many of you have reiterated that the only reason you pay your subscriptions is for WildEarth.”

    Crawford-Brunt also slammed the pay-TV broadcaster over apparently going against its promise to focus on locally-produced content.

    In mid-2022, MultiChoice announced plans to spend half its content budget on African-made shows with local actors and producers within the next two years.

    “WildEarth represents everything MultiChoice proclaims to champion. Our stories are created by South Africans — shot, edited, broadcast, produced, directed — not large multinational conglomerates who send crews out here to shoot African stories and then sell them back to Africa,” wrote Crawford-Brunt.

    “Purchasing African wildlife content from American media giants, in dollars, while shunning local production, does not represent ‘unwavering commitment to uplifting and showcasing local content, talent, and industries’.”

    He described WildEarth’s struggle as a “mirror held up to MultiChoice, reflecting the image of a lumbering giant who has called foul of the times”.

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