The communications regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), yesterday said it had disconnected the transmission for StarTimes after the company ignored its warnings to stop broadcasting the World Cup underway in Brazil.
The UCC executive director, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, told the Daily Monitor on Tuesday that the Chinese Pay TV company does not have broadcasting rights for the football tournament which ends on July 13.
“We dispatched a team last week to disconnect them but they somehow managed to restore connection,” Mr Mutabazi said, adding: “We have given them several warnings to stop in vain so this time we decided to switch them off completely.”
Only MultiChoice’s SuperSport and the national broadcaster, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) have the rights to broadcast the tournament from the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA).
However, StarTimes in March had signed a Shs200 million deal with UBC, a Free to Air Channel, which according to UCC was “illegal” to have secondary broadcasting rights and also advertise on its platforms- two TV channels and two radio stations.
UBC attained its rights from the African Union of Broadcasters (AUB), a union for all national broadcasters on the continent and also a FIFA partner.
UCC wrote on June 16 directing them to halt the partnership or risk legal action.
When contacted yesterday, the StarTimes spokesperson, Ms Christine Nagujja, denied any action being taken against them, saying the blackout was as a result of a technical glitch in the system.
“UCC hasn’t switched us off. We are just having a small technical fault in our system that we are trying to fix,” Ms Nagujja said.
The AUB raised red flag in May, saying some of its members had entered into agreements with StarTimes to broadcast the World Cup to sell company Set Top Boxes (decoders) and such partnerships are illegal.
UBC had recently stopped all other Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting providers from airing the tournament but StarTimes kept showing it, saying UBC channel is a free to air channel accessible by all.
By press time last evening, it was only Star Times music channel showing.
UBC’s managing director Paul Kihika was not readily available for comment as his known number was off.