Thousands of thousand of StarTimes across Kenya hangs by a thread after the pay-TV firm was sued by a media firm over unpaid football broadcasting rights.
In the filed court documents, beIN Media Group looks to have StarTimes Liquidated for failing to honour a contract for broadcasting rights to the French top-flight football league, Ligue 1. According to beIN, the debt accrued all the way to $11 million (approximately KES 1.2 billion), including interest.
The ongoing legal battle is highly likely to affect household in Kenya whose set boxes will be rendered idle if the liquidation request is granted to the petitioner, beIN Media.
The Chinese pay-TV company had signed a deal with beIN Media Group granting it rights to broadcast English and local language Ligue 1 matches across sub-Saharan Africa. The contract was set to last from 2018/19 to 2023/24 seasons.
A monthly payment plan was agreed upon between both parties after the issue was taken to court in Hong Kong before the start of the 2019/20 season but StarTimes failed to pay the first instalment.
Update on 8th March 2021:
StarTimes Kenya responded denying all reports of the ongoing legal battle while also promising to all Kenyans that the service will not be interrupted at all.
According to StarTimes, the firm has “not been subjected to any court order in Kenya or anywhere else in relation to the said dispute with beIN Media Group. The statement goes on to say that the ongoing “legal proceeding” in Hong Kong will not lead to any halt in Kenyan operations.
“Whatever decision reached is binding on both parties in that country only and would have no consequences on StarTimes’ operations in Kenya or any other region where the brand operates,” the statement reads in part.
“StarTimes continues to enjoy close and fruitful relations with individual right holders including in Kenya where the pay television platform has signed property rights with the Football Kenya Federation and other local content developers.”