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Wednesday, Oct 23rd

GOtv Zambia drops charges against TopStar, govt

Matter to be settled out of court.

In unexpected turn of events, MultiChoice's GOtv Zambia has dropped charges against Chinese digital service provider TopStar Communication, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and the Zambian government over the restoration of free-to-air channels on GOtv Zambia platform.

GOtv initiated a consent order on the discontinuation of action in which the parties agreed to settle the matter outside court.

Earlier in the year, GOtv sought an order in the Lusaka High Court to restrain ZNBC from disconnecting free-to-air services on GOtv Zambia platform.

GOtv was also seeking a declaration that the operation of public signal distribution network by TopStar was illegal and unlawful.

TopStar applied to the court for the matter to be dismissed because it lacked merit.

However, in June this year, High Court Judge Gertrude Chawatama ruled that the matter should proceed to trial because GOtv had shown sufficient grounds.

Surprisingly, GOtv has now withdrawn the matter from the court claiming the parties involved have agreed to handle it out of court, according to court documents.

The minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Kampamba Mulenga has confirmed the matter has been withdrawn from the court.

"It's true the matter is out of court and will be handled accordingly by parties involved. That is all I can say for now," Mulenga said.

Attempts to reach MultiChoice Zambia have to date proven unsuccessful.

The alliance between ZNBC and TopStar had reportedly resulted in over 400, 000 subscribers not being able to access local channels on MultiChoice's GOtv decoders-despite a longstanding agreement with ZNBC regarding the free-to-air channels.

TopStar owns 60% stake in ZNBC and empowers the company to collect all ZNBC advertising revenue and tower rental revenue for 25 years.

The revenue collected will go towards the servicing of a US$273 million loan secured by the Zambian government from the Export-Import Bank of China for investment in the digital broadcasting network and the building of provincial studios.

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