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Multichoice blocking FTA channels on their new decoders?

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dstv explora
For all its shiny new features the new Explora does not allow you to view FTA channels.
For all its shiny new features the new Explora does not allow you to view FTA channels.

We already know how awesome the Explora decoder is. After all, at every advertising break no matter what channel you are watching there is this dude telling you about the magnificence of the new decoder:

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  • DStv Catchup: how you can watch the latest Series episodes and sporting event highlights on demand.
  • How you can watch two channels at the same time.
  • How you will have more space to record your TV shows.
  • Intuitive interface that is more beautiful than the depressing yellow and white of previous decoders.
  • You can create multiple favourite lists which you can even go on to colour code.
  • Box Office to rent the latest movies on demand and watch them on your decoder.
  • HD viewing

What they conveniently fail to emphasise or mention at altogether is:

  • DStv catchup is only available to premium subscribers.
  • You will need another decoder to watch two channels at the same time (Extra-view) and you will be charged an extra fee to be able to access this service.
  • This fee should also be paid if you want to record any material.
  • Box Office (for reasons I am still to understand) is only available to premium subscribers.
  • And oh, did I tell you most of these services are not available to Zimbabwean subscribers.
  • It is cheaper to buy the decoder from third party vendors than from official Multichoice agents. Sometimes there is even a $100 price difference!
  • You cannot watch free to air channels on the PVR and Explora decoders.

Whilst it is easy to avoid the high priced decoders by buying from third parties, it is the fact that you cannot view FTA channels on the PVR and Explora decoders that I find disappointing.

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This would not have been an issue a year ago when the Wiztech and Philibao decoders were still popular as people sought to watch SABC channels on them. When the good folks at Sentech decided to flip the switch overnight the appeal of owning these devices decreased overnight.

Suddenly people were flocking to buy DStv decoders. Although, I am told, it is still possible to view channels like God TV (my favourite Christian channel) and Ezekiel TV on old decoders it is not possible to do this on the PVR/Explora decoder.

How to access your favourite FTA channels

  • Install another dish to use with your old FTA decoder. You can buy the so-called half-set (dish,LNB and cable) in town for around $20. A dual LNB will not help you since the new decoders require you to have one in order for them to work properly. Using this sort of setup will result in clutter as your PlayStation, DVD, home theatre, computer and decoders all fight for space in front of you.
  • You can install an Extra -view setup using one of your old DStv decoders and install your FTA channels using the old codes and tricks. As an added bonus you can also view all the DStv channels on the first decoder on a second TV which will greatly reduce your remote wrestling fights. Plus you will be spared all those insufferable Idols and Big Brother Episodes.
  • If you have a fast internet connection you can stream your Christian channel instead. This will require you to setup an under the TV computer and assumes that the channel you want to watch has an online stream. For example God TV can be viewed online here.

The new Multichoice decoder might be based on Linux but it is greatly disappointing that viewers are not able to view FTA channels on it. This forces subscribers to make less than ideal set ups or not to view the channels altogether. This threatens the FTA channels ecosystem with channels being either forced off air or to join Multichoice officially. The latter can be deemed anti-competitive behaviour.

I also understand the complex licencing requirements that the company has to wade through every-time that they introduce a new service but it is also disheartening to see how many perks our South African counterparts get to enjoy for essentially the same price as us.

We actually pay more for less because the company refuses to use a floating exchange rate to charge for its services. The PVR 2P decoder which is sold for R999 in South Africa (which is about $95) is being sold by official Multichoice agents for around $220! If this is not a rip-off then I do not know what is.

There is always something to praise and complain about when it comes to Multichoice but I think the issues of uniform service across the continent, fair pricing (the Rand has been weak for so long now) and the inability to access free to air channels are issues that are in urgent need of address.

Image Credit: Spice4life.co.za


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28 thoughts on “Multichoice blocking FTA channels on their new decoders?

  1. What would you expect from a franchise? These guys are just after money not service delivery.

  2. How can a decoder be worth $250 ahhhh come on Zimbos lets wake up and demand value for money

  3. at least multichoice pays its employees well , vamwe maboss aidya ega mari vashandi vachidya nhoko dze zvironda

  4. MultiChoice is entrenching its monopoly, Garikai thanks for this informative article

  5. MultiChoice is entrenching its monopoly by removing FTA, Garikai thanks for this informative article.

  6. Dstv were just ripping us off here in Nigeria,
    the Explora here in Nigeria is 4,500Rands while it cost only 2,031Rands in retail stores in SA.
    what a RIP OFF!!!!!

  7. Folks there are brands of fta decorders that need only good setup.and works. Anywhere in africa .for christian lovers try strong decorders from albaba.com

  8. I am a premium subscriber. When my previous decoder became disfuntional I went to M.Webb for a relacement. First of all they would only except hard cash. (no credit card or cheque) And they wanted payment there and then.(kontant op die tafel… so to speak.) I was also told the the replaced decoder is exactly the same is my broken decoder, but on reconnecting the new decoder I found that I could no longer record any program through my DVD while I was watching it. I was therefor lied to. I can only think that mweb wants to force subscribers to subscribe to their overpriced their explora.

  9. Explora decoders are the best setup boxes multichoice have evermade .people you can still get da fta channels on these decoder .except the emmanuel tv and love world. ..I tried on mine and successful get over 70 FTA..

    1. I am also using the explora. Please send me the settings. I am frustrated not watching God Channels

  10. its easy make sure that your decoder is recieving good signal quality. press menu, settings, then go to addition networks, press enter and enter yr frequences

    1. To view free channels on a dstv 4u simply buy an HD lnb and u re free to go

  11. Press the BLUE DSTV button on your remote.
    Go to Settings
    Go to Satellite Settings > Additional Settings – press OK.
    Make sure the following codes are all the same on Network 2:
    Enable Network: Yes
    Use NIT: Yes
    Frequency: 12682
    Modulation: DVB-S
    Symbol Rate: 26657
    FEC: 2/3
    Polarisation: Horizontal
    Go to Scan This – press OK.
    Once scanning is complete press the BLUE DSTV button.
    Go to Planner
    TV Guide > All Channels – press OK.

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