Cable subscribers unhappy with sudden dropping of eight Fox channels

With Channel V off the air, StarHub viewers will no longer get shows such as Battle Of The Pop, a viewers’ vote-driven programme.
With Channel V off the air, StarHub viewers will no longer get shows such as Battle Of The Pop, a viewers’ vote-driven programme. PHOTO: CHANNEL V

These channels under Fox Networks Group will be removed from next Thursday

Eight TV channels under the Fox Networks Group label will be removed from StarHub's pay-TV service later this month, while the fate of Fox's 25 other channels on the service hangs in the air.

Starting next Thursday at noon, the following channels will cease broadcast on StarHub: Music channels Nat Geo Music, Channel V, Channel V Mainland China, and Channel V Taiwan; non-fiction channel National Geographic Channel HD; and Mandarin entertainment channel Xing Kong.

Kids and baby channel BabyTV and Hindi entertainment channel Life Ok will stop airing on June 30.

It is not known whether Fox's other channels, which include popular English channels such as Star World, Fox and Fox Crime, which screen popular dramas such as Scandal and The Walking Dead, will continue airing on StarHub.

The Straits Times understands that Fox's contract with StarHub is ending soon.

Ms Fion Yeo, general manager of Fox Networks Group Singapore, says that "no agreement has been reached at this time" between the two parties over a renewal.

She adds: "We are working really hard with StarHub to ensure such an eventuality does not arise."

She says that if the rest of Fox's channels are all terminated from StarHub, the company's channels "will continue to be available on Singtel TV and potential new partner platforms".

In general, channels are taken off air when the pay-TV operator and their content partner cannot reach an agreement over contractual terms.

Ms Lee Soo Hui, head of the media business unit at StarHub, says that "channel cessations are always the last resort". When they do occur, "it is usually due to pressing reasons which make carriage of the channels unsustainable such as low viewership or prohibitive costs".

Several StarHub TV subscribers have complained on social media about how they were not informed of the axing of the eight channels.

StarHub says that it runs crawlers on the TV screen to inform viewers of channel cessations, and also put the news on the StarHub website.

Subscribers are also miffed because they cannot choose new channels to replace the cancelled ones.

Ms Low Sok Chong, 35, a human resource manager, says that her two children aged five and two love BabyTV.

She renewed her subscription in January and says that consumers should be allowed to renegotiate when the content changes.

Recently, media law changes were made to protect consumers against unfair pay-TV practices, making it possible for consumers to exit their pay-TV contracts within 30 days of the operators making changes to pricing or programming.

But that new rule applies only to consumers who subscribed to packages after April 30 this year.

In response to a query about possible compensation for affected subscribers, StarHub said that it is "constantly engaging various content partners to add even more compelling content to our TV offerings" for customers, and that it seeks "their patience as we freshen our content line-up".

• Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'StarHub axes 8 channels'. Print Edition | Subscribe