KBC’s rivals seek court nod to screen World Cup matches

Star Times and Pan African Network Group have asked the High Court to dismiss a suit by KBC that blocked them from broadcasting the World Cup matches aired by national broadcaster.

The two firms said the suit filed on Friday by KBC, which has exclusive rights to broadcast the World Cup, lacks merit arguing that they don’t interfere with the content and transmit to audience as received.

KBC on Friday obtained temporary court orders stopping Star Times and Zuku — operated by Wananchi Group — from airing the World Cup, arguing that they were infringing on its exclusive right to broadcast the tournament.

“The set top boxes act like aerials and, therefore, receive the plaintiff’s content as would be received by any Kenyan with an aerial,” said Mr William Lan, Star Time managing director.

“Therefore, it is also inaccurate to suggest that the reception of the plaintiff’s signal on the digital terrestrial television platform converts the broadcast to a pay/subscription service,” added Mr Lan. Yesterday, the order stopping the firms from broadcasting the Cup was extended until Thursday when the matter will be heard.

The national broadcaster claims that the companies hacked into its signals and broadcast the opening ceremony and first match along with the adverts paid for to be aired during the match.

Star Times airs signals provided by Pan African. Zuku and Star Times are digital content providers through pay television. KBC in its suit listed Star Times and Pan African Network Group and Wananchi Group as respondents.

Wananchi Group is yet to respond.

KBC claimed if not stopped, the broadcasting of its signal will cause it an estimated loss of Sh1 billion. But the two firms said contrary to KBC’s allegations the signal will reach more viewers and boost revenue for the station.

Star Times reckon that terms of its licence issued by CCK requires it to carry at least five free-to-air channels (FTA) — among them KBC Channel 1 — noting that, therefore, it cannot be said it carried without permission.

Star Times claimed CCK on Friday wrote to KBC informing it that the broadcast right was acquired using taxpayers’ money and everyone should access the matches.

CCK is said to have reminded KBC that having allowed DSTV and Gotv — both pay TV services — to broadcast its signal, denying other service providers the same was in breach of its universal obligation contained in KBC Act.