By CHIKUMBI KATEBE
GOtv Zambia has sued ZNBC in Lusaka High Court for encrypting transmission despite a shareholder agreement between the two entities.
As a result, over 300 000 subscribers have been cut off from watching local channels on the Gotv decoder.
In a sworn affidavit by GOtv acting managing director Ngoza Matakala, the plaintiff claimed ZNBC and Topstar communication have encrypted their broadcasting signals and removed the local free to air channels from the digital terrestrial television platform.
This followed an apparent interference with the GOtv transmission which has contributed to loss of business for the MultiChoice owned Television Company.
GOtv has requested the Lusaka High Court for a restraining order against any encryption to the free to air channels until the matter is resolved in court.
This is contained in an application for an injunction to restrain the national broadcaster from interference in the broadcast rights of GOTV Broadcasting Zambia Limited and Gotv Zambia Limited of the signal transmitted by free to air content to their subscribers.
Ms Matakala submitted that ZNBC was a shareholder in Gotv Broadcasting Zambia and Gotv Zambia Limited and that the former has received broadcast transmission of free to air channels since June 2015.
She also submitted that ZNBC was also a shareholder in Topstar Communication which has been incorporated to provide public signal distribution service, but that the two were now enforcing changes to the joint venture by encrypting the local channels airing as free to air channels on GOtv
“That I am aware that the free to air channels have been removed from the digital terrestrial platform only and not on other similar platforms that are available in the republic.
“In particular, the free to air channels remain on the 2nd defendant’s platform notwithstanding the non-payment of the applicable tariffs by the free to air content providers,” she said.
GOtv alleged that by not giving notice, ZNBC acted unreasonably and unfairly towards and their subscribers when they did not give then an opportunity “to communicate the change to its subscribers and to consider alternatives to minimize the impact of the loss of the free to air channels on the subscribers”.
She explained that even MutilChoice Zambia has communicated to ZNBC over their failure to advise them of the intention to remove free to air channels from the GoTV transmission which would deprive subscribers of the local channels.
“That on 24th January 2017 I wrote to the 1st defendant to seek confirmation of the proposed disconnection of free to air channels from the plaintiff’s digital terrestrial television platform.
“That on 25th January 2017 I received a letter from the1st defendant advising that it has to comply with Government policy which required it to charge certain fees to content service providers,” she said.