GOtv sues ZNBC, Topstar for blocking its local channels

GOTV Broadcasting Zambia Limited has sued ZNBC in the Lusaka High Court for disconnecting some services from its digital terrestrial television platform.

GOtv is seeking an injunction from the Court to compel ZNBC and Topstar Communication Limited to immediately restore the free-to-air services on its terrestrial television platform.

In a statement of claim filed in the principal registry, GOtv, which also cited Topstar Communications Limited, submitted that ZNBC was a shareholder in GOtv and that the remaining shares were being held by Multichoice Africa Limited, a company incorporated in Mauritius.

GOtv asked the court to restrain ZNBC from interfering with its digital terrestrial television services which had resulted in the disruption of its services.

“An order for the defendants to indemnify the plaintiffs against any claims made by subscribers affected by the decision of the defendants,” read the statement of claim in part.

GOtv also sought an order that the operation of the public signal distribution network, Topstar, was illegal and unlawful.

“The plaintiff will aver that in December 2016, the first defendant [ZNBC] and the second defendant [Topstar Communications] in the presence of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services officials engaged the free-to-air content providers with a view of encrypting their broadcasting signals and thereby removing the free-to-air services from the plaintiff’s digital terrestrial television platform,” read the claim in part.

GOtv also indicated that ZNBC engaged the said free-to-air content providers with a view of enforcing payment of applicable tariffs.

“On or about 25th January 2017, the said acting managing director received a letter from the first defendant advising that it has to comply with government policy, which requires it to charge certain fees to content service providers,” read the claim in part.

And a media consultant, Kasebamashila Kaseba, said it was appalling for one channel to interfere with another channel without intervention from government or CCPC.

“How on earth can one channel hack or encrypt or interfere with another channel of FTA in order to give another channel at a profit without government and CCPC doing anything about the crime? Interesting that GOTV is the one protecting public interest from desperate ZNBC,” said Kaseba.

Recently, GOtv wrote to its subscribers stating that ZNBC had blocked local channels from its decoder.

“On 01February 2017, the ZNBC blocked the following local channels from being received on the GOtv decorder; Life TV, ABN, Camnet TV, HC Zambia, City TV, Prime TV, CBC, Revelation TV, TBN 1 and TBN 2. Our customers have therefore been cut off from digital channels they have come to enjoy. We regret this action taken by ZNBC and are asking them why these channels have been blocked on the GOtv decoder while still being made available on a competitor’s decoder,”GOtv had stated.

         

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