StarTimes denies illegally hijacking Kenya’s world cup ‘signal’
Chinese pay-TV firm StarTimes has defended itself against allegations that it ‘hijacked’ a Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) signal to air FIFA football world cup games.
Last week, the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) dramatically alleged that StarTimes was using KBC’s world cup signal without permission.
Subsequently, KBC also launched court action against StarTimes and digital TV provider Zuku for ‘illegally’ carrying KBC’s world cup signal. KBC and MultiChoice’s DStv, are the only two television providers in the country with rights to air the live football matches taking place in Brazil.
Complicating the situation, StarTimes was also ordered by a Kenyan court earlier this year to stop broadcasting free-to-air channels such as KBC.
StarTimes; though, says the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) gave it permission to use KBC’s world cup signal as this ‘does not infringe’ upon the free-to-air court judgement.
StarTimes managing director William Ian said the requirement by the CCK to transmit the free-to-air channels in the instance of the world cup has been to ensure that viewers subscribed to pay-TV services do not purchase separate set-top boxes to watch local channels.
“I am aware that quite apart from the requirement by CCK (Communications Commission for Kenya) for KBC content to be carried on the digital platform, the plaintiff had itself confirmed to StarTimes that its content could be carried on our platform,” said StarTimes’ managing director William Ian.
Ian also said that CCK had already written to KBC explaining why StarTimes had to continue airing the football matches.
KBC had last week abruptly stopped airing the tournament’s opening match and advised its viewers to switch to other digital or even analogue channels.
Meanwhile, Zuku has until Wednesday to file its response to the same case.