14 September 2017

Zimbabwe: Kwese TV Seeks Permission to Operate

Photo: Abubaker Lubowa/Daily Monitor
(File photo).

Dr Dish (Pvt) Limited, which recently partnered Econet Media Limited (Mauritius) to distribute Kwese TV satellite content to the Zimbabwean viewership, has filed an urgent chamber application seeking permission to operate its broadcast business, pending determination of a Supreme Court appeal by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.

High Court judge Justice Charles Hungwe last week handed down a judgment allowing Dr Dish, in partnership with Econet Media, to provide the service pending confirmation of the provisional order.

He set aside an earlier decision by BAZ cancelling the content distribution licence awarded to Econet Media's partner, Dr Dish (Pvt) Ltd. Justice Hungwe allowed Dr Dish to enjoy the full benefits of its licence, pending finalisation of the main dispute.

Dissatisfied with the outcome, BAZ through its lawyers T.H Chitapi & Associates, on Monday filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court seeking the setting aside of the High Court decision.

Pending determination of the Supreme Court challenge, Dr Dish has approached the High Court with an urgent chamber application for leave to execute the High Court judgment. In the application, Dr Dish argued that Kwese TV will suffer financial prejudice if the Supreme Court appeal sets aside the High Court judgment.

"Applicant had 24 145 subscribers (before the High Court judgment)," reads the application. "At least 5 429 more subscribers have joined applicant's network since the judgment was handed down, bringing the total subscribers to 32 429.

"The violation of the Constitutional rights of applicant's subscribers will be perpetuated if leave to execute pending appeal is not granted on an urgent basis."

Dr Dish argued that 1 635 people employed by Kwese risk losing their jobs if the urgent chamber application failed. The people's right to freedom of the media will also be violated, Dr Dish argued.

Dr Dish argued that the appeal filed by BAZ was meant to frustrate the Kwese TV project and that it had no prospects of success. "The appeal is not bona fide," reads an affidavit by Dr Dish director Mr Nyasha Muzavazi.

"It has been made for purposes of delay and for the purpose of harassing the applicant and depriving the members of public access to Kwese content that applicant is distributing."

Dr Dish questioned why BAZ was turning a blind eye to several illegal satellite television operators, who were selling DIGISat and Zuku decoders on the streets, but exerting its energy on the Kwese project.

Dr Dish was in 2007 issued with a licence to specifically provide My TV Africa channels to Zimbabwean viewers, but it struggled to pay the required fees for years. It also reached a point of failing to provide the service until BAZ issued a notice of intention to cancel the licence in October last year.

Last month, Dr Dish partnered Econet Media Limited (Mauritius) and paid all the outstanding fees before notifying BAZ of its intention to add the Kwese TV channels to its list of content.

BAZ received the money, but went on to terminate the licence through a letter dated August 22 this year.

Zimbabwe

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