Wednesday January 8 2014

Pay TV company declines to pay subscribers for ‘fake’ decoders

Sports minister Charles Bakkabulindi launches Pearl Sporto Channel on StarTimes Platform recently.

Sports minister Charles Bakkabulindi launches Pearl Sporto Channel on StarTimes Platform recently. StarTimes has been sued for supplying fake decoders to subscribers. PHOTO BY EPHRAIM KASOZI. 



Digital Pay Television provider, StarTimes, has stood ground against compensating more than 130,000 customers who were allegedly sold outdated Digital Video Broadcasting -Terrestrial decoders (DVB-T)

The company sold each DVB-T decoder at Shs70,000 to customers but the gadgets were discovered and announced to be outmoded by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), which later prompted a civil suit.

But the company, the Daily Monitor, understands, objected the out of court settlement options of paying customers at least Shs9.1 billion for the fake equipment or providing the required Digital Video Broadcasting – Second Generation Terrestrial (DVB-T2) set top boxes warranted by the regulator, UCC and other International Standards.

StarTimes spokesperson, Christine Nagujja, when contacted defended the company’s decision, saying other Pay TV providers also provided relatively similar technology (when they were starting) but have never compensated customers or even been taken to court.

“And it’s not that DVB-T decoders do not function. They still do---but it was also simply advancement in the technology,” Ms Nagujja remarked. “Telecom companies are now using 3/4G technology for internet but are people using 1G blocked from doing so?” She also maintained the court case is “simply political”, and aimed at mudslinging the company’s reputation:
“Let’ just wait for what court will decide,” she said. Star Times officials also said the company stopped importation of the said decoders noted: “Any one claiming to have bought a DVB-T decoder from our outlets is lying.”

Uganda is among several African countries preparing for digital migration in 2015, but awareness in the country is still lukewarm. Attempts to get comments from UCC were futile by press time as several officials authorised to comment on the matter could not be reached by phone.