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TV opinion

MultiChoice... What choice?

Nasionale Pers today is not like the beast it used to be in the 1980s when I worked at its Cape Town headquarters. Back then, Naspers was a crypto-fascist newspaper and magazine behemoth that hid its apartheid sympathies behind a vaguely verligte public face, doing its best to reflect a supposedly more enlightened Cape Afrikaner heritage.
Why is the decoder so difficult to set up? (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Why is the decoder so difficult to set up? (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
A miracle and wonder, then, to behold its present guise as a supranational multimedia octopus. You will find the giant mollusc's suckers everywhere in emerging markets. Beyond sub-Saharan Africa, Naspers is in China, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, Dubai and India. If you want to catch a rugby or cricket match on a Greek island, say, you would watch a Naspers-backed channel.

It's a hardware issue

Its internet and e-commerce operations are by far the biggest money-spinners. Print and pay-TV in South Africa are legacy assets. Print is being ground down with minimal investment; the company is not exactly throwing sand in the gearbox, but it provides precious little grease.

Pay-TV business MultiChoice has run as a near-monopoly for 22 years. It provides an annuity stream investors adore, but I am not convinced you could place DStv decoder owners among the happiest in the land. I speak from experience.

There is nothing wrong with its "bouquet" of channels, or even the subscription fee. It's the hardware.

Why all the wires? I could ask Altech why their verk*kte decoders are so damn difficult to get working without the help of a registered service provider or a child. But I won't. I want to whinge about MultiChoice, whose put-upon service division has to placate the likes of me.

A bad joke

The call centre is a joke, so if your decoder gives in your only option, as a Joburger, is to trek to Randburg and open your heart to a clerk.

They have been schooled to be polite, even in the face of volcanic exasperation. Usually your decoder is not fixable (the wretched wires don't connect properly), so they offer you a reconditioned one for R500. I have gone through five of the things in the past year, but not once did my friendly clerk offer a trade-in and upgrade to the new Explora model.

On my second-to-last visit to Randburg, I asked if I could make a complaint. My dear clerk waved a hand to a terminal in the corner, which really cheered me up. Eventually a boss-type chap appeared, and committed the wickedest sin of all. He blamed the firm that reconditions the machines, making his problem mine.

So last week I gave up and asked to buy a new decoder. Then MultiChoice refused to accept my Diners Club card.

I hissed out and bought an Explora at Game for R150 less than I would have paid at the MultiChoice service centre.

Happy ending? Not so much. The blasted thing now requires a fancy new satellite dish. You want a stock tip? Sell Naspers.

Source: Business Times, via I-Net Bridge


I-Net Bridge
For more than two decades, I-Net Bridge has been one of South Africa’s preferred electronic providers of innovative solutions, data of the highest calibre, reliable platforms and excellent supporting systems. Our products include workstations, web applications and data feeds packaged with in-depth news and powerful analytical tools empowering clients to make meaningful decisions.

We pride ourselves on our wide variety of in-house skills, encompassing multiple platforms and applications. These skills enable us to not only function as a first class facility, but also design, implement and support all our client needs at a level that confirms I-Net Bridge a leader in its field.
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