Chris Steven, Abuja
The high expectations among Nigerians for an alternative to satellite television provider, DSTV has been shattered as the company that raised their hope, TSTV is unravelling owing to failure to obtain the necessary broadcasting and redistribution rights to the channels included in its bouquet.
In spite of officially launching on October 1, 2017 as heavily promoted, potential subscribers were soon disappointed as only dummies of TSTV’s set up boxes were symbolically unveiled at the event attended by Minister for Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Subscribers have been told to wait indefinitely for commercial sale of the devices.
The company, after the launch, issued a warning to would be subscribers not to pay for the set top boxes yet and to beware of scammers since it has not started selling the advertised devices.
It said on its social media handles that “We wish to inform the general public that the commercial sale of TStv Africa decoders has not commenced and there is no request from TStv Africa to subscribers for payments of any kind whatsoever for decoders”
“The public is hereby advised to disregard any instructions from any person(s) to make payments.”
Details provided on its website indicated that “TStv Africa is a wholly owned Nigerian innovative Pay TV Operator with refined offerings of novel Pay As You View (PAYV) subscription, pause subscription, complimentary internet service, Video call and an array of amazing TV channels with premium entertainment, informative and educative programs that cut across all genres.”
But documents exclusively obtained by The Post revealed that TSTV is promising Nigerians what it does not presently own or have a right to.
Several content owners have issued cease and desist order to the company, which effectively prevents it from launching its much-advertised products.
beIN, a Qatar-based global sports entertainment group, which is the exclusive licensee of the broadcast rights to many international sporting leagues and other entertainment content, had written TSTV on September 28, two days before the launch notifying it of infringement on exclusive broadcast rights.
The letter, titled “Illegal Pirating of beIN Content Cease & Desist,” raised the issue of “Intellectual property infringement by TSTV”, which has 10 of beIN’s channels forming the bulk of its sports offering.
Turner Broadcasting System Europe Limited, Owners of a leading international news channel, CNN, also hit TSTV with a similar order one day before beIN.
CNN warned that it has not given TSTV the rights to rebroadcast its channel as part of its bouquet contrary to the promotion of CNN on the new company’s website.
“The distribution and broadcast of this channel without authorization will infringe our intellectual property rights and constitute acts of piracy.
This would amount to unlawful use, which will infringe the rights and harm the interest of our company, and cause us substantial prejudice.
“In this context, we invite you to undertake in writing not to distribute CNN, and not to use or reproduce the channels’ trademark on any advertising or promotional material.
“In the absence of your confirmation should you include CNN within your channel line up we will take the necessary and appropriate measures and bring civil and criminal judicial actions in order to protect our rights,” the letter signed by a Director, Eleanor Browne warned.
Meanwhile, a source in one of the regulators copied in the letters disclosed that there are several other cases and desist notices to TSTV in which the organization has been copied.
The source, who does not want to be identified because he is not the official spokesperson, said that there is confusion as to why TSTV rushed to launch its services when it has no agreement with owners of the content it is promoting.