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Kenyan consumer body sues GOtv, StarTimes

Kenya , 08 May 2014

Kenyan consumer body sues GOtv, StarTimes

The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) is suing two digital pay-TV service providers, MultiChoice’s GOtv and China’s StarTimes, for failing to transmit three free-to-air channels.

Cofek on Tuesday filed the case at Kenya’s Milimani Courts, after its two weeks’ notice to the two signal distributors expired. GOtv and StarTimes are the first and second respondents in the case.

Cofek’s move; though, comes after the Supreme Court of Kenya last month prohibited digital signal distributors China’s StarTimes, MultiChoice’s GOtv, Pan African Network and Signet from broadcasting channels from three media houses: Nation Media Group, Standard Media Group and Royal Media Services.

The court issued this ruling on the grounds that StarTimes, GOtv, Pan African Network and Signet did not have permission to broadcast the channels.

But this in turn angered Cofek, which alleges that GOtv and StarTimes have therefore sold consumers channels that are not being broadcast by them anymore.

“We pray that the honorable court hereby issues an order compelling the first and second respondents to compensate affected prepaid subscribers by way of either refunds and/or credit equivalent to the period the local free-to-air channels have not been relayed,” Cofek said in the papers filed in court.

Cofek also faulted the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) for failing to ensure that it exercises its oversight mandate and its powers as a licensing body, in ensuring that the pay-TV service providers adhered to the requirement to air at least five free-to-air channels in the country.

Cofek said that CAK should have summoned both the retailers and media houses to a dialogue meeting to hasten their negotiations.
Cofek further claims that the failure to do so has left Kenyans missing out on important developments in the country as the free-to-air channels broadcast local news content.

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