The first things to go are the luxuries. Given SABC’s programming, I’ve never really considered DStv a luxury. Until now.
align=justifyFor just shy of R500.00 a month, what does my DStv subscription actually give me? The ads claim DStv offers Premium Subscribers – one of which would be me – a choice of over 70 channels. Apparently 40 of those are music channels, so let’s look at the other 30.
align=justifyIn September 2007, DStv sales in South Africa reached the 1.3 million subscriber mark. I can’t be the only one who has noticed that the only current programmes on the DStv channels are sports, news and weather. That doesn’t make up 30 channels, so what does a Premium Subscriber get entertainment-wise?
align=justifyThere’s Martha Stewart on the Home Channel, celebrating Halloween and St Patrick’s Day in June and July. Over and over until you want to stick a hand-crafted, silver plated fork in your head. Actually, it’s not just Martha. Every programme on the Home Channel appears to be aired four or five times a day. Every day. And then again the next morning.
align=justifyIn tried calling the Home Channel, as it must be interesting to sell ads in that medium. The person I asked to speak to couldn’t be found; I got a voice-mail that told me “25492” wasn’t available, and then I got transferred to The Times. Twice. Good job I’m not trying to buy an ad on The Home Channel.R
align=justifyI called the contact numbers DStv provides on its website. After ten minutes of listening to lousy music, interrupted by house ads, I got digital messages again and finally a human. She couldn’t help me and apparently couldn’t tell me who was authorised to talk to a journalist.R
align=justifyThe closest I got to a DStv person was someone named “The Editor” on the DStv website discussion forum. The Editor had replied to a query about programming. Here’s an extract:
align=justifyThe DStv Bouquet is comprised of the key viewing genres of premium sport, premium movies, premium general entertainment, news, documentary, kids/youth, lifestyle and music. It offers subscribers many of the world’s top performing television brands. Channel selection is based on ongoing, independent audience research and is structured to meet a broad spectrum of viewing needs. The choice of channels is also dependent on availability of distribution rights. This means that all international channels are not necessarily available for broadcast in Africa. Furthermore operational factors linked to the geographic location of our key uplink in South Africa, influences channel availability.
align=justifyThere you go. Ongoing, independent audience research has brought DStv to the conclusion that what we, as Premium Subscribers, want is the same programmes over and over again, ad nauseum. The Home Channel is not an exception. The History Channel shows items I can repeat verbatim, and I have watched the same American killer get jailed at least nine times in the last six months on the Crime & Investigation Channel. BBC Food repeats more often than a bad piece of pork, and even Anne Robinson loses something when I watch the same Weakest Link two Tuesdays in a row.
align=justifyWhile I am thinking my entertainment money would be better spent at a book store each month, I am wondering what sales figures look like at DStv. Anyone care to try and get a human on the phone who could tell us?