Court bars Zuku, StarTimes from airing World Cup

Friday June 13 2014

Fans react during a live screening of the opening match Brazil vs Croatia of the 2014 World cup in Brazil on June 12, 2014 in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

Fans react during a live screening of the opening match Brazil vs Croatia of the 2014 World cup in Brazil on June 12, 2014 in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA 

By EVELYNE MUSAMBI
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A Nairobi court Friday restrained two digital television companies from airing World Cup content after government-owned media house KBC sued them for broadcasting without authorisation.

In an application, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), which has exclusive rights to broadcast the World Cup in the country, sued Star Times Media and Wananchi Group Limited.

Both firms are digital content providers through pay television.

The national broadcaster claims that the companies hacked into their signals and broadcast the Thursday night match along with the adverts paid for to be aired during the match.

“The companies broadcast the World Cup tournament and related events without authorisation,” the application read in part.

StarTimes which airs signals provided by Pan African Network had been running adverts in the dailies, urging viewers to "watch live football in crystal-clear digital quality on Star Times."
Wananchi Group, the company that owns Zuku, had also ran similar adverts urging Kenyans to buy their decoders in order to watch the World Cup.

KBC has exclusive rights from Fifa to broadcast the live matches in the country along with the South African-based Dstv.

According to the Consumer Federation of Kenya, StarTimes had been blocked from KBC’s digital platform but they used the analogue signal from the national broadcaster and aired it without consent.

‘Even after KBC blocked StarTimes from its DDT (digital platform), Star Times allegedly used the analogue signal to re-broadcast live matches of KBC to its Kenyan viewers and those in Uganda and Tanzania,’ the lobby group posted on its website.

The court has now barred the pay TV companies from airing any World Cup content.

The matter is set for hearing on June 16.