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Wednesday, Oct 16th

Econet Group shuts entertainment division

Econet Group shuts entertainment division

Econet Media Limited has shut down its entire entertainment division because of harsh economic conditions and the high cost of content due to inflation.

Local economic conditions have worsened in Zimbabwe, exacerbated by the shortage of foreign currency.

Econet Group confirmed that the closure of the division would not be postponed.

Chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni said: "The third-party content providers, on whose content we rely, require payment in foreign currency. With the prevailing economic conditions in Zimbabwe, and the current business operation environment - characterised by an acute shortage of foreign currency - sustaining Kwese and the Kwese Satellite Service was no longer viable."

Africa ICT analyst Brighton Musonza said, "Econet Media blaming Zimbabwe currency reform for shutting down Kwese TV across Africa shows their business model was set on using Zimbabwe (and the) US dollar to finance their growth across Africa... which, to me, sounds really unfair to Zimbabwe."

Econet Media, the company which operated the entertainment division, is now under administration because of outstanding debt.

Musonza added: "This really has nothing to do with Zimbabwe, but a lack of appreciation of the video/television industry and the evolving technology."

Econet said shutting down the PayTV service was part of a review of its business strategy and service offerings "to maintain its position as a leader in broadcasting innovation in Africa" and also align with "the changes in the global digital and satellite broadcasting sector, and growth in access to mobile and fixed broadband" in the continent.

The company also blames 'external' forces including the fiercely competitive PayTV market and the broader entertainment industry in Africa.

It stated: "Over the last four years, we sought to disrupt Africa's media landscape and enable Africa to tell its own stories using a variety of technologies including satellite broadcast, video streaming and free-to-air TV. Unfortunately, market conditions and content price inflation got in the way of us completing our mission. Before its dissolution, Kwese provided affordable premium content to audiences across Africa via Pay-TV, Free-to-Air TV, and Digital Platforms. In its years of operation, Kwese TV garnered tens of thousands of subscribers across more than 12 African countries."

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