StarHub may drop Discovery's channels

StarHub television subscribers could be losing up to seven popular lifestyle channels, including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC, after June 30. After Aug 31, four more channels, such as Food Network, HGTV and Asian Food Channel, could also be gone.

All of these channels fall under the Discovery brand, which is known for producing educational as well as entertaining lifestyle and science programmes.

In a statement by Discovery yesterday, the company said this is because StarHub is "not prepared to pay fair value" for the content.

The release said: "In Discovery's recent negotiations with StarHub, we have unfortunately reached an impasse as StarHub is not prepared to pay fair value and has announced its decision to cease transmission of all 11 Discovery channels on its platform.

"We have a responsibility to now take the extraordinary step of informing our viewers that they may lose all the Discovery channels they are paying for on StarHub."

The announcement greatly affects StarHub subscribers of the company's education and lifestyle TV subscription groups as Discovery's channels make up a significant chunk of the packages.

In the lifestyle group alone, Discovery's channels comprise 45 per cent of the offerings.

Discovery also makes up 12 per cent of the entire StarHub English pay-TV space.

A StarHub spokesman tells The Straits Times that the pay TV operator is in renewal negotiations with Discovery and "is doing everything possible to arrive at a deal which would allow Discovery and StarHub to continue our partnership while offering our customers the same content at a reasonable price".

At the same time, StarHub is "acquiring fresh replacement content in the event that negotiations prove unsuccessful".

Going forward, audiences can continue to watch a handful of Discovery's channels on Singtel TV, such as Discovery Channel and TLC.

A selection of Discovery programmes is also available on the Discovery Channel Asia website (www.discoverychannelasia.com).

In Singapore, Discovery's portfolio of channels reached a total of 1.3 million viewers in the last year.

Ms Laurianne Lim, a fan of Discovery's food shows on TLC and Asian Food Channel, hopes that the channels will remain on StarHub.

The 36-year-old housewife says: "I've already cancelled most of my TV channels on StarHub because I watch entertainment content on Netflix instead.

"But I still enjoy watching food shows and following cooking recipes on TV. I would not be happy if these channels were gone."

Two years ago, eight TV channels under the Fox Networks Group label were dropped from StarHub, while the fate of the group's 25 other channels had hung in the air for weeks.

Contract renewal negotiation deadlines were extended until a new deal was eventually signed to keep the Fox channels on the platform.

Correction note: In an earlier version of the article, we said that Discovery's channels comprise more than 60 per cent of the lifestyle basic group offerings, and that Discovery makes up more than 20 per cent of the entire StarHub English pay-TV space. This is wrong. StarHub has clarified that Discovery's channels comprise 45 per cent of the lifestyle basic group offerings, and that Discovery's channels make up 12 per cent of the entire StarHub English pay-TV space.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2018, with the headline 'StarHub may drop Discovery's channels'. Print Edition | Subscribe