On Friday, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) sued pay TV providers Zuku and Startimes for using their World Cup signals without express permission. According to KBC, they had entered into a contract with FIFA that was being bleached by the pay tv providers, exposing the national broadcaster to potential lawsuits.
The two pay tv providers had been running a series of advertisements on the dailies and on billboards promising Kenyans a true World Cup experience with all the 64 matches on show. They were basing that promise on the fact that KBC has not pulled out of their platforms, unlike NTV, Citizen and KTN. What they did not know however, was that the national broadcaster had other plans.
In this letter dated 11th June – a day before the world cup, KBC informed Multichoice of the decision to ban the airing of matches on any pay tv platform.
“We are writing to inform you that Multichoice Africa Limited has been notified by FIFA that there is a blanket ban on the broadcast by way of Pay TV platforms of any Free-to-air (FTA) channel whilst the broadcasting of the game any of the game licensed for broadcast on such FTA channel.” read part of the letter.
It is believed that the same letter was copied to Zuku and Startimes, but unlike Multichoice (who own GOtv), they went ahead and aired the Thursday opener, hence the court order on Friday.
Here’s a scanned copy of the letter.
Following the court order, the pay TV channels withdrew the broadcast. This was Startimes notice to its subscribers.
We regret to inform our esteemed customers that we are compelled to discontinue broadcasting KBC TV on our digital platform until further notice. This is due to the fact that the National Broadcaster (KBC) has moved to court and obtained an injunction order restraining us from amongst other things broadcasting the 2014 FIFA World CUP which is carried on the KBC TV on our platform.
We have instructed our advocates to take appropriate steps to have the orders lifted in order to enable you our esteemed customers to continue to view the 2014 FIFA World Cup through the National Broadcaster (KBC) on the digital platform.
As of Sunday night, it appeared some of these issues had been settled, with GOtv not ‘black-screening’ KBC during the France-Honduras game. Furthermore, GOtv is the official sponsor of the games on KBC, after paying a reported Sh50 million.
According to COFEK, Startimes has offered KBC Sh15 million to continue the broadcast that will help in retaining their customers.
In the meantime, you can watch the matches on KBC (analogue) or KBC owned Heritage TV (Digital – Signet). You may also be able to access Uganda’s UBC or Tanzania’s TBC on Zuku.