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StarTimes denies violation of Kenyan viewers’ rights

Kenya , 12 Jun 2014

StarTimes denies violation of Kenyan viewers’ rights

Chinese pay-TV service StarTimes says viewers subscribed to its Kenyan service were not paying for free-to-air channels that were pulled off its bouquet, as alleged by a local consumer body.

StarTimes has also said it does not plan refunding subscribers for the loss of the channels, as petitioned by the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek).

In March, a Kenyan court halted pay-TV companies from airing the country’s free-to-air channels, saying the firms had not sought for relevant approvals from the channel owners: therefore ‘infringing’ on their intellectual property rights.

For this reason, Cofek went to court seeking an order to compel StarTimes and MultiChoice’s GOtv Kenya to compensate subscribers for the loss of the channels.

Cofek alleges the pay-TV providers flouted their contracts as viewers are not receiving what they are paying for.
But StarTimes disagrees.

“The channels previously aired by StarTimes under the ‘must carry rules’ were not paid for by the subscribers. In any case, they were readily and freely available to anyone who had an aerial connected to their TV set,” said StarTimes managing director Leo Lee.

Lee also said that by having two court cases addressing the same issue, the company was exposed to double litigation.

“StarTimes faces two sets of proceedings before two different courts. This would compel us to raise our grounds of appeal at the supreme court. The scenario might lead to embarrassing rulings from the courts,” Lee added.

StarTimes; therefore, wants the application by Cofek stopped until an appeal to have rights to air the local channels is heard by a court.

Meanwhile, an investigation by ITWeb Africa has revealed that some subscribers are resorting to getting back analogue signals, despite having bought pay-TV set-top boxes.

Speaking to ITWeb Africa, Lucy Njeri, a subscriber to one of the pay-TV firms said, “I decided to go back my analogue aerial and receive local channels, instead of paying for a service that was delivering what I expected.”

“I will continue using the analogue signals until the pay-TV companies sort out their issues,” Njeri added.

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