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StarTimes accused of ‘hijacking’ Kenya’s world cup signal

Kenya , 13 Jun 2014

StarTimes accused of ‘hijacking’ Kenya’s world cup signal

A consumer body has accused Chinese pay-TV provider StarTimes of hijacking a Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) signal to air the FIFA football world cup in Brazil.

This after public broadcaster KBC, which has digital and analogue channels, suddenly stopped broadcasting the opening game of the tournament between Brazil and Croatia on Thursday night.

KBC subsequently directed its viewers to access the world cup matches via other digital or even analogue channels to watch the match. StarTimes’ broadcast of the world cup opening game; though, continued.

And the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) is alleging foul play.

“The ICT geniuses that are Chinese managed to beat KBC at its own game after devising a way of picking the analogue signal and passing it off as if it was a digital signal,” says Cofek in a statement on its website.

“Yet KBC had already blocked them on DDT (digital) platform,” alleges Cofek.

Cofek goes on to allege that is has seen a letter from KBC that initially stopped StarTimes from relaying the world cup broadcasts.

Cofek adds this could risk another court battle with the Chinese digital broadcaster.

Cofek is already taking StarTimes to court in a bid to force the Chinese pay-TV provider to compensate subscribers for the loss of free-to-air channels on the service.

In March, a Kenyan court halted pay-TV companies such as StarTimes and GOtv from airing the country’s free-to-air channels, saying the firms had not sought approvals from the channel owners.

At the time of writing, KBC and StarTimes have not commented on Cofek’s latest signal hijacking claims.

But Cofek’s latest battle with StarTimes already started on Thursday, hours before kickoff of the opening game.

In a separate public announcement, Cofek alleged that StarTimes has no rights to broadcast the tournament in Kenya, as these are said to be reserved by KBC and MultiChoice’s DStv .

“StarTimes are openly lying to the public that they will air live world cup matches from today until the end of the tournament,” says Cofek.

“In a full page colour advertisement in sections of the print media today, ‘Score with the best deal in town’ StarTimes are saying ‘watch live football in crystal clear digital quality on StarTimes’.

Cofek on its website has also posted a StarTimes advertisement (pictured above) that seemingly shows StarTimes selling cheaper decoders bundled with world cup packages for Khs 1,999.

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