A Zambian High Court has ruled in favour of satellite pay television company MultiChoice Zambia over the joint venture between the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Chinese digital television service provider TopStar Communications.
The joint venture, entered into by the two companies earlier this year, means TopStar owns 60% shares in ZNBC and empowers the company to collect all ZNBC advertising and tower rental revenue for the next 25 years.
TopStar owns 60% shares in ZNBC and empowers the company to collect all ZNBC advertising and tower rental revenue for the next 25 years.
The revenue collected will go towards the servicing of a US$273 million loan secured by the Zambian government from the Export-Import Bank of China for investment in the digital broadcasting networking and the building of provincial studios.
The alliance also paves the way for the rollout of TopStar-branded set top boxes for digital television and has reportedly resulted in the prevention of over 400,000 subscribers from watching local channels on MultiChoice’s GOtv decoders – despite a longstanding agreement with ZNBC regarding the free-to-air channels.
Although the deal sparked anger among stakeholders, including opposition political parties, the government, through the Minister of Information and Broadcasting services Kampamba Mulenga, said its decision on the joint venture “will never be reversed.”
Following the standoff, MultiChoice Zambia, via GOtv, decided to take the matter to court seeking a declaration that the operation of a public signal network by TopStar is illegal and unlawful.
The satellite TV company also wants the court to grant it an injunction restraining ZNBC from interfering with the local channels airing as free-to-air until the matter is fully determined.
TopStar had applied to the court for the matter to be dismissed because it lacked merit.
However, High Court judge Gertrude Chawatama ruled that the matter should proceed to trial because GOtv had shown sufficient grounds.