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Cofek wants pay TV providers to compensate clients

Consumer Federation of Kenya has sued two pay television service providers seeking to have them compelled to compensate affected pre-paid subscribers for the period they have not been able to relay three local channels.

Cofek wants GoTV Kenya Limited and Startimes Kenya Limited to compensate affected subscribers by refunds or credit equivalent to the period local free to air (FTA) channels have not been relayed.

Cofek also wants an order prohibiting the two firms from proceeding to charge same fees as they used to prior to disconnecting the  free to air channels.

Through lawyer Henry Kurauka, Cofek claims that the pay TV service providers stopped relaying FTA channels including but not limited to NTV, KTN and Citizen TV.

According to the petition, failure to do so was in part followed by the court of appeal ruling temporarily upheld by the Supreme Court pending determination which required the two pay TV providers not to air FTA channels without the consent of the respective media houses.

Cofek argues that seeking of the consent was the responsibility of GoTV and Startimes, and that their subscribers especially those who had pre-paid were not under any obligation to suffer in any manner.

The petitioner claims the cessation of transmission of content from the FTA channels has inconvenienced consumers who are not party to the dispute between the signal distributors and the three media houses.

Cofek claims the Communications Authority of Kenya whom they have named as the third respondent has not come to the rescue of consumers.

Cofek, which is suing through its officials Stephen Mutoro, Ephraim Kanake and Henry Ochieng, also want the court to determine whether it (court) will be setting the right precedent by allowing leniency for service providers who are charging more for less.

The consumer organization also wants the court to issue an order compelling GOTV and Startimes to pay for damages to the affected subscribers.

Cofek also wants a determination whether unsuspecting consumers should be made “sacrificial lambs” in a sin of commission or commission solely of the service provider.

“Several consumers currently subscribing with the first and second respondents have written to the petitioner’s official social media pages and authorized to proceed and seek for compensation,” said Mr Mutoro in his affidavit.

Ms Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi directed the petitioners to serve the petition and fixed the case for mention on May 14.