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DStv removes free channels

DStv has removed the ability to receive around 100 free channels on its decoders, previously available through a simple setting change.

MyBroadband previously used the tweak to gain access to the channels on a decoder two years ago.

These channels are broadcast from the same Intelsat-20 satellite that DStv uses for its satellite transmissions but are not offered exclusively on its paid-for bouquets.

To receive the channels, users only require a satellite decoder that supported DVB-S and DVB-S2 modulation, as well as the MPEG4 media format.

By 2022, this was available on all modern DStv decoders — including the Model 4S decoder we tested. In addition, the decoder needed to be connected to a satellite dish configured to connect to Intelsat-20.

We had to change a few settings under “Satellite Settings” in the DStv menu to receive the channels.

Using guides available online at the time, we set up four networks with various frequency, modulation, symbol rate, FEC, and polarisation settings.

After scanning, we gained access to around 100 new channels beyond channel 1155, including religion-focused and regional channels. In addition, retailer-specific channels for Clicks, Game, and PEP were also available.

While much of the content would not be widely appealing, it was worthwhile to enable, considering it was completely free.

In addition, the service would theoretically not require an active DStv subscription, as the channels themselves were not part of any DStv bouquets.

That means that many people with unused hardware that had become useless after terminating their DStv subscription would again be able to use their decoder and dish.

Additional Networks option removed

Unfortunately, it no longer appears to be possible to access the channels using DStv’s own decoder settings.

MyBroadband tried to replicate enabling the capability on two decoders in June 2024.

We tested changing the settings on the original Explora and the Explora Model 3A decoders, both of which had the necessary hardware to receive the channels.

However, we were surprised to find that the “Additional Networks” option under “Satellite Settings” that previously allowed us to receive the broadcasts had been removed.

We also tried to find a way to add the channels via other settings changes but did not have any success.

MultiChoice subsequently told MyBroadband that it implemented a software upgrade in 2023 on all DStv decoders which resulted in channels not part of the DStv bouquets becoming unavailable.

It justified this action as part of its measures to protect its content from piracy and prevent unauthorised access to its decoders.

DStv’s own channel selection shrinking

In addition to removing the option to add the 100 free channels, MultiChoice has slashed seven channels from its bouquets since December 2023.

Over the same period, it has only added one new channel.

DStv regularly revises its channel offering based on viewer demand, assessing whether the price its pays for sourcing and broadcasting the content is worthwhile.

However, in the last few years, the broadcaster has dropped far more channels than it added.

That has left many questioning whether the once sought-after service has lost some of its shine as one of the best-value entertainment offerings on the market.

In one regard, DStv’s top-tier Premium package continues to dominate rival offerings — sport.

Its Supersport channel line-up includes live coverage of all the major rugby, football, cricket, tennis, golf, and motorsport events.

In many instances, it has exclusive rights to broadcast this content, forcing many sport lovers to stay subscribed to Premium despite seeing little value in other channels.

The table below summarises DStv’s channel changes from late 2023 until the end of June 2024.

My Broadband

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