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TV firms oppose pay demand for viewers

Two Pay TV companies have opposed an application by a consumers’ organisation seeking to compel them to compensate viewers for missing out on local free-to-air channels.

Startimes Kenya and GOTV Kenya want the application by the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) put on hold until a case they filed at the Supreme Court challenging an order stopping them from airing the contents of local TV stations is determined.

Lawyers George Khaseke and Anthony Njogu for the two companies argued the issues raised by Cofek were the same ones before the Supreme Court and which the consumer organisation is a party.

“One of the issues for determination is the consent between our clients and the local stations to broadcast their free-to-air programmes. Cofek is a party to that dispute and it is only fair if their present application is stopped until the determination of the matter before the Supreme Court,” said Mr Njogu.

Cofek went to court seeking an order to compel the two companies to compensate thousands of their subscribers for terminating the airing of NTV, KTN and Citizen TV channels.

The pay TV stations stopped airing the local channels following a court order that they were infringing on the intellectual property rights of the three stations.

Cofek argued that the continued no-show of the three channels was a violation of the subscribers’ rights and their expectation to have them when they acquired Startimes and GoTv set top boxes.

“Seeking the consent of the media houses to air their channels was the sole mandate of the pay TV channels and the subscribers who had paid to watch the channels had nothing to do with it,” said lawyer Henry Kurauka for Cofek.

Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi directed the parties to file their submissions and scheduled June 11 for hearing of Cofek’s application.