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Zambia: State Warns Satellite TV Broadcasters For Airing Other Broadcaster’s Content

Zambia’s Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha took the slightly odd step of trying to prevent terrestrial broadcaster My Television from selling its content to satellite operator Muvi TV. Whilst this is dressed up as a dispute about licence conditions, the likely motivation is that the Government wants to protect the position of the state broadcaster.

Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha warned in a statement that it was illegal for My TV, which is registered to broadcast TV content to enter in partnerships with radio and TV stations that are restricted to certain areas. Shikapwasha said that it had come to the attention of the government that My TV had entered into a contract with Muvi TV to broadcast nationally through its satellite broadcasting system programme although Muvi TV had its own broadcasting licence.

He said that while a satellite based broadcasting station could broadcast nationally, they were not permitted to take on the platform broadcasts by other stations licensed in Zambia with restricted frequencies. Shikapwasha said it was a contravention of their licenses to provide a platform for restricted broadcasting licences to extend their services countrywide.

According to Shikapwasha’s statement in Lusaka last week it was illegal for My TV, registered for broadcasting licence purpose as Strong Technologies, to provide a platform for stations that were restricted to certain areas. "Accordingly, I warn My TV and all stations to cease these broadcasts immediately, or they will have their licences revoked," Lieutenant-General Shikapwasha said.

He said while a satellite based broadcasting station could broadcast nationally their programmes, they were not permitted to take on their platform broadcasts by other stations licensed in Zambia with restricted frequencies. Gen Shikapwasha said it was therefore a contravention of their licences to provide as platform for restricted broadcasting licences to extend their services countrywide.

My TV Chief Executive Officer, Lloyd Ngoma, told MISA-Zambia in an interview that his company together with Muvi TV would have a meeting with the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services to try and resolve the matter. He said that the two parties (My TV and Muvi TV) were not aware of any law that prohibits them from transacting in the manner they did. Muvi TV Technical Director, Angel Phiri told MISA-Zambia in an interview that the television station was operating within the confines of the law.

” Muvi TV is not the one broadcasting, it has just sold its content to My TV and they are the ones who are broadcasting under their licence. This is not the first time we are selling our content, we once sold to Africast, ”said Phiri.

Phiri said Muvi TV has since been included on the My TV bouquet and it started showing last Monday. He said that the station sees nothing wrong with their business transaction but it was now the responsibility of the government to show them the law, which they have contravened in selling its content to a satellite pay TV Company. Muvi TV is a privately owned station, which is licensed to broadcast within the confines of the capital Lusaka

Sources: Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and Times of Zambia

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