WorldSpace South Africa To Shut Down PDF Print E-mail
South Africa’s only satellite radio service provider, WorldSpace Satellite Radio (www.1Worldspace.com), has announced that it will be ceasing all of its operations in the country at the end of January 2010.

This pending South African closure follows the sudden termination of WorldSpace’s Indian operations at the end of December 2009. India’s approximately 150 000 paying subscribers – which reportedly accounted for more than 95% of the U.S.-based company’s entire subscriber base – to the digital satellite radio network were entirely blind-sided when they received an e-mail on 25 December 2009 notifying them that the service would be switched off on 31 December 2009. WorldSpace Southern Africa’s and WorldSpace India’s parent company, WorldSpace Inc., has been battling financial woes for a number of years already. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States in late 2008 and indications are that Liberty Media is in the process of taking over the company.

However, in the termination notifications that were sent out by WorldSpace Southern Africa to its subscribers, Liberty Media is never mentioned. The letter merely cites that the “potential buyer of much of WorldSpace’s global assets has decided not to buy the assets relating to and supporting WorldSpace Southern Africa’s subscription business in Africa”, which will result in the discontinuation of the WorldSpace subscriber business on the continent.

According to reports, the former employees of WorldSpace India, who were left in the lurch when the company suspended its operations there, have decided to initiate legal action against parent company WorldSpace Inc. as well as against Liberty Media for “improper and unethical handling of the closure and a failure to honour legal obligations”.

WorldSpace, which has been known as 1worldspace since mid-2008, was the first satellite radio network in the world. The company is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, in the United States. Before filing for bankruptcy and suspending operations, the company employed two satellites to broadcast a variety of ad-free, dedicated music, news, comedy and talk radio stations to subscribers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

South African subscribers have been receiving the following e-mail notification:

Special Announcement for Southern Africa Subscribers to WorldSpace Satellite Radio

Dear customer,

On January 31, 2010, the WorldSpace satellite radio broadcast service will be terminated for all customers serviced from South Africa.

This action is an outgrowth of the financial difficulties facing WorldSpace Southern Africa Pty. Ltd.’s parent company, WorldSpace, Inc. (“WorldSpace”), which has been under bankruptcy protection in the U.S. since October 2008. The potential buyer of much of WorldSpace’s global assets has decided not to buy the WorldSpace assets relating to and supporting WorldSpace Southern Africa’s subscription business in Africa. As a consequence, we must discontinue out subscriber business in Africa.

Your subscription contract is with WorldSpace Southern Africa Pty. Ltd., which will soon effect a creditor’s winding up of the company. We recognize that you may have paid for services to be rendered beyond the termination date. A company liquidator will contact you soon to advise you of your rights with respect to any unused portion of your subscription.

Our sincere apologies for this circumstance.

WorldSpace Southern Africa Pty. Ltd.
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