Liberia: DSTV AND SATCOM IN LEGAL BATTLE

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The Executive Vice President for Governmental Affairs for SATCON Liberia, Abdullah Kamara, has expressed frustration with the manner in which the Commercial Court at the Temple of Justice is handling the case between them and DSTV.

In an interview with journalists with permission from his lawyer, Mr. Kamara argued that he is not satisfied with the proceedings that the court is carrying on.

According to him, the case has been heard and defended by their lawyers. He disclosed that DSTV’s claim is that they are the only ones that are supposed to show football games.

“We know that DSTV is operating Super Sport. SATCON has never and doesn’t have super sport on any of their channels. So, we don’t know why. This is not the first time, it happened in 2009 when they took
Nanasat to court and they are still there,’’ he added.

He further said that DSTV continues to do this and “I believe that he wants to frustrate businesses of his competitors, because every time he runs to court they will close their businesses and ask them to
pay a bond in several thousands of dollars.”

It can be recalled that DSTV, operated by Consolidated Group, a company owned by businessman and politician Simeon Freeman, is roiled by competition from later entrants to the market, Nanasat, SATCON and K3 Telecoms, which DSTV has sued along with LTA in the Commercial Court
for damages for wrong.

DSTV is the first operator licensed by the LTA for Satellite TV services but browbeaten its monopoly with high and constraining pricing of around US$90.00 per month until the coming of the others,
which are providing similar services at very relatively affordable costs (as low as US$30.00 monthly subscription) leading to access by many low-income earners.

However, Mr. Kamara said, the sad part of this all is the regulator; LTA has been forceful in taking a frame decision on this matter. He stated, “We all believe that, especially we would have licenses are authorized by the LTA to operate in the confines of the laws and regulations of the LTA.”

He claimed that the intent of the LTA and the act that brought LTA into existence is to create a level plain field where everyone will have the opportunity to operate and it is also good for the consumers
to always make a choice.

“And people compete based on the quality of the service and the price but if DSTV continuously harassing her competitors and this is even further encouraging in my mind and the way the court proceeding, s going is not really fair to us because since he took us to court and every time the court procedures are on, when he does not have sufficient information he will always inform the court that his witnesses are in South Africa and we have to wait and the court will grant that,” the SATCON executive decried.

According to him, the case has been dragging on for the past three to four years.

He added, “I believe that the intent is to create a monopoly in the space because if you take all your competitors to court with US$5million lawsuit and you know none of them can even produce one
million dollars. That is [if] they are found guilty, which I don’t believe it will happen, will lead to only player (DSTV) on the market and we know how expensive the price of DSTV connections are.”

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