Local TV stations accuse govt of making them repay Digital Migration loan

The Zambia Independent Broadcasters Association (ZIBA) says it will not be part of the US$282 million digital migration project loan repayment since it was also not consulted at the time of acquiring it.

The association members who are mostly private TV broadcasters asked Topstar to find ways of repaying the loan without involving its members.

They charged that Topstar was trying to make local broadcasters repay the loan by charging them exorbitant fees.

Speaking to News Diggers soon after the meeting which was held on Friday 23rd March 2018 at Intercontinental hotel, the broadcasters asked both Topstar and Star Times to find ways of sharing the revenue collected from local TV subscription fees.

They warned that failure to share the subscription fees, they would remove their channels from Topstar.

“Star Times vice president Andrew Dearham upon realizing how serious private broadcasters were, he attempted to blame the people who were handling the digital migration project, but ZIBA members quickly pointed out a few problems which did not need government role, like running Topstar ads scrolls on top of every channel on Toptar, revenue sharing and failure to provide monitoring decoders at broadcasters studios. Private broadcasters have put Topstar on the shortlist if they won’t get results in few days, then Topstar will remain with ZNBC and Kunfu channels,” one of the aggrieved ZIBA members said.

They also questioned why Topstar was charging viewers subscription fees to watch local free-to-air-channels.

The Independent broadcasters who also met with Information Minister Dora Siliya on Thursday March 22, 2018 warned that unless things changed, the Topstar purpose vehicle for Digital Migration would end up failing in Zambia.

They argued that there was an abrogation of the digital migration policy.

“The minister could not specify what measure she would employ to attend to this matter diligently. Her predecessor Mulenga Kampamba also lamentably failed to attend to the matter despite agreeing to meet media owners earlier before cancelling on the eleventh hour citing busy schedule. Media owners firmly stated that content on Topstar has to be paid for without fail or the plug will be pulled. Strangely the current minister of information did not touch the issue of the loan or anything to do with carriage fee as demanded by Topstar,” said the members who sought anonymity.

         

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