Thinus Ferreira
2 minute read
2 Feb 2012
00:00

TopTV’s boss out ‘over porn’

Thinus Ferreira

CAPE TOWN — TopTV’s CEO, Vino Govender, is getting the boot after incensed investors apparently put pressure on the beleaguered pay TV operator to get rid of him amid mounting unhappiness with its content and broken promises....

CAPE TOWN — TopTV’s CEO, Vino Govender, is getting the boot after incensed investors apparently put pressure on the beleaguered pay TV operator to get rid of him amid mounting unhappiness with its content and broken promises.

Eddie Mbalo, chairperson of On Digital Media (ODM), TopTV’s umbrella company, confirmed last night the company was in talks with Govender “on a mutual separation”.

These discussions were not concluded and ODM would not make further comment, he said.

Mbalo is tipped to succeed Govender, at least in an acting capacity.

Channel 24 reported earlier yesterday that Govender was getting the boot after a failed attempt at launching a much-maligned porn package.

It quoted insiders saying investors were worried about the direction of the company and the pay TV operator’s content.

The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), one of the major investors in TopTV since its launch, apparently asked that Govender be replaced over its faltering content offering.

The IDC could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

As to where TopTV went wrong, media consultant Janine Lazarus said: “It will now be very difficult for the public to divorce the brand from the debate on pornography, and — even worse — the fracas surrounding getting the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s stamp of approval.

“What is needed now is some serious rethinking and strategising — that is if it isn’t too late.”

Govender took over as ODM’s CEO in 2007 when the founder, Mergan Moodley, became ill. TopTV passed the 300 000 subscriber mark towards the end of last year, before its porn plan became known and organisations started calling for a boycott.

TopTV also received criticism for the vast number of repeat screenings, lack of new channels, losing channels since November that have not yet been replaced, and a failure to follow through on multiple promises, like starting a sport channel.

Since its commercial launch in May 2010 Govender has backtracked about the company’s plans on several occasions. Chief among them is the promise not to run pornographic channels.

Promises of plans to have high definition (HD) channels, a PVR and the addition of several new TV channels within months of its launch have not been realised.

TopTV went through a restructuring exactly a year ago. It recently lost the Hi Nolly and One Music channels, and will lose its Current TV channel on March 11.

Morale at Top TV is reportedly down, with several people worried about their jobs.

An insider said a consultancy would be engaged to review the structure, positions and skill sets, “but nothing has been communicated to the staff”.

— Channel 24