TOP STORY: Government ponders action against GTV

Government through the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA) is considering action against the GTV, a satellite television service across Africa whose local office closed down on short notice. Steven Kinuka Baguma, the former Country Manager of GTV Rwanda said that RURA is handling all cases arising from the company’s closure.
Some of the dissapointed GTV subscribers.
Some of the dissapointed GTV subscribers.

Government through the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA) is considering action against the GTV, a satellite television service across Africa whose local office closed down on short notice.

Steven Kinuka Baguma, the former Country Manager of GTV Rwanda said that RURA is handling all cases arising from the company’s closure.

“As of now, I don’t know what actions the regulator (RURA) is considering. However, anyone that has a complaint should file there,” he said during a phone interview with The New Times recently.

GTV, a former pay TV channel popular among football fans ceased operations on January 30 due to the current global financial crisis.

This left GTV’s loyal Rwandan subscribers frustrated. Some had already paid subscription fees up to three months in advance, only to receive a short notice from the service provider.

It was operated by Gateway Broadcast Services (GBS), a UK based communications company. The overall company management said that the crisis had severely interrupted its abilities to secure further funding.

When the Director General of RURA, Diogène Mudenge was contacted, he was reluctant to give details.

“I am not willing to talk about that issue,” deciding to remain silent on the government’s decision on GTV. Reliable sources however reveal that RURA is supposed to compensate GTV for the remaining period of its license.

“It is RURA to compensate clients who had subscribed in advance,” the source said.

RURA as a regulator is mandated to protect consumers through administration of operating licenses.

Consumers of the regulated service provider therefore have a right to lodge complaints against utility matters such as service quality, delivery process, and billing.

GTV was licensed by RURA in 2007 after its establishment in Uganda. By 2008 it was operating in 22 African countries with over 100,000 subscribers.

The company broke the monopoly that had been enjoyed by DSTV for numerous years sparking competition that led to a drastic cut in prices and increase on the channels.

GTV provided lower monthly subscription rates of $20-35 (Rwf11,375-19,906). It also secured 80 percent broadcasting rights of the English Premier League and English League Cup.

However after operating for two years, the London based company had recovered only $35 million (Rwf19.9 billion) of its $200 million (Rwf113.8 billion) investment. This means that on average it earned $66287 (Rwf37.7 million) monthly from each country.

To make its presence felt, much of GTV’s investment went into football with a sponsorship package for football leagues such as the East and Central African tournament, the CECAFA Cup, and domestic leagues in Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda.

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