StarTimes: Funding Crisis, expension under threat ‘It’s A Baseless Insinuation

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Years after its debut and growth on the African continent, StarTimes, the Chinese-owned digital TV service provider, may be facing a funding crisis. This, inevitably, has put a handbrake on its operations. The company, which has eight satellite stations driving its global service, currently operates in more than 10 African countries including Burundi, Congo, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

That spread has now been allegedly curtailed by a leanness of resources. Being a privately-owned concern, it has to raise all its money itself.

But the Public Relations Manager of StarTimes, Anetor Irete, insisted that the insinuation is baseless, untrue and unnecessary as StarTimes, a worldwide technology company that was established in 1988 in China, is the pioneer and key player in the pay-tv business in China, where it has acquired over seven million subscribers.

“Relying on her well-recognized outstanding performance and promising development prospect, StarTimes position herself as the most influential broadcasting enterprise in China, having being listed among China’s top 100 technology and science innovation- oriented enterprise, Forbes top 20 China’s most potential enterprise and the only authorized private enterprise by the Ministry of Commerce in China to undertake foreign projects in the radio and TV industry.

Having earned the status of being “the most influential systems integrator, technology provider and internet operator in China,” the company’s imagemaker believed that StarTimes “is capable of providing for the local people not only digital TV service, mobile multimedia service and various kinds of digital TV terminal products, but also digital signal transmission service for national and commercial broadcasting and television institution; and thus, to realize the vision of advanced terrestrial digital television technology that enables every African family to afford digital TV set, to watch digital TV, to enjoy TV as well as share the beauty brought by digital television.”

It was gathered that the President of the group, Pang Xinxing, was recently quoted by the Chinese Entrepreneur and China Daily as saying that StarTimes has slowed down its operations on the African continent due to paucity of funds.

Also, he was reported to have admitted that in some countries, StarTimes might be unable to start building a platform for operations, despite being granted operating licence by authorities in such countries.

Information has it that since 2011, China Development Bank and the China-Africa Development Fund have been in partnership with StarTimes, both offering the company loans and through direct investment. But Xinxing still believes that “the funding gap is still too large.”

This poses a grave threat to the company’s oft-stated dream of providing coverage for 70 per cent of Africa’s population over the next three to five years.

StarTimes as the only licensed Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in Nigeria, he stressed, “can’t be distracted from successfully migrating Nigeria from analogue to digital broadcasting before the switchover date of June 17, 2015.

“StarTimes is a joint venture between Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) of Nigeria and Star Communication Network CO, Limited of China. We have done so much in the last three years of our existence expanding our coverage to over 20 cities (states) across the country (Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Ibadan and Port-Harcourt, Aba, Benin, Enugu, Ilorin, Jos, Kaduna, Makurdi, Onitsha, Sokoto, Uyo and Yola) and providing the best of 70+ channels on DTT to our subscribers which is rich in local contents, educational programs, news, music, movies, entertainment, sports and much more. We launched in four new cities two weeks ago (Abeokuta, Akure, Osogbo, Lokoja) and we are launching in more states before the end of the year.

“We have over 1.5 million subscribers in just 3 years of operation. We have other product offering of StarTimes LED Digital TV, CRT digital TV, Car GPS TV and Mobile Phone digital TV. It is not possible to have fund crisis and still be expanding in Nigeria?