Liberia: Satellite TV Stations Shutdown

Andre Ayew celebrates his goal equalising the score against the United States at the World Cup. But the U.S. went on to score again in the final minutes of the game.

Consolidated Group Incorporated, owner of DStv, through its CEO Mr. Simeon Freeman has filed a lawsuit against three companies here - Nanasat, Satcon and K3 Telecom, alleging unfair competition occasioned by the pirating of contents legitimately owned by foreign international bodies.

Consolidated Group Incorporated files an action for damages for wrong by attachment against Nanasat Digital Television Communication, Satcon Communication Services and K3 Telecom, complaining drop in subscription fees from US$3,368,826.15 in 2017 to US$3,208,539.58 in 2018 amid alleged pirating.

Freeman claims that the sustained pirating has caused his company's revenue to erode to the extent that it has incurred a total loss of US$2,625,971.98 due to loss of income experienced from 2015 up to 2018, insisting that the aggregate amount to be settled by the defendants to the plaintiff for their wrongs is US$5,125,971.98.Officers from the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia were seen Tuesday, 5 November at the various offices of the companies involved to effect its orders following the complaint.The Commercial Court summons the three companies along with the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) to appear before it and file their answers to the complaint on or before 14 November, as failure to do so the court will render a judgment by default.

According to Mr. Freeman, MultiChoice Africa, the plaintiff [Consolidated Group Inc.] and content owners such as the English Premier Leagues, BeIn, Super Sport, La Liga and others also experienced the unfair competition occasioned by the pirating of contents legitimately owned by these foreign international bodies.

He accuses the defendants of allegedly committing fraud, misrepresentation and pirating rights and infringing other broadcast rights which they are not authorized to commercialize, exploit or transmit.Mr. Freeman complains that Consolidated Group Inc. offers subscription management services to DStv subscribers in Liberia through a duly signed representative agreement between MultiChoice Africa Limited and Consolidated Group Inc.

He indicates that Consolidated Group Inc. and MultiChoice Africa Holdings B.V. (formerly MultiChoice Africa Limited) entered into a contractual agreement wherein Consolidated Group Inc. was appointed to provide subscription services management in Liberia among other collection of subscription fees from DStv customers.

According to him, Consolidated Group [makes] remittance to MultiChoice Africa, monitors and reports to MultiChoice Africa any activities that may amount to infringement of its rights.

However Freeman complains of decline in revenue generation and decline in the number of subscribers [to DStv], adding that the number of subscribers is expected to decline further in 2019 and other years to come if the defendants' alleged act of piracy is not enjoined and prohibited.

He informs the Court that rights to distribute, market and broadcast live of any international sporting activities to include soccer via television satellite are restricted to a wide range of international protocols.

Freeman explains that institutions within a country that broadcast international matches to include BeIn Sport and other movies must have certain rights to do so, either through a parent body who has that intellectual property right or other authorizations just as the plaintiff [Consolidated Group Inc.] has done by entering into a contract with MultiChoice Africa.

The complainant laments that the sustained pirating has caused his company's revenue to erode to the extent that it has incurred a total loss of US$2,625,971.98 due to loss of income experienced from 2015 up to 2018.According to Mr. Freeman, this was the period when he realized the downturn owing to the illegal and unhealthy business dealings of the defendants.He demands specific damages of US$2,625,971.98.00, general damages of US$2,000,000.00, punitive damages of US$500,000 and a 25% as additional damages for any additional period the case remains on the docket of any court in Liberia undetermined.

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