The Herald ran a story announcing that Kwese TV never applied for a licence which we have known from the beginning. They cited various ‘players in the industry’ who gave their opinions but did not want to be identified. Who are these players? Could it be BAZ or maybe the Ministry of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services hiding their identities on account of the weak responses they have? They seemed to be responding to the threat of legal action by Dr Dish through its lawyers. I think it’s not far fetched to think that.
In all the mumbo jumbo there, one thing stood out. The Dr Dish licence and it’s cancellation. If you remember, Dr Dish has or had a content distribution licence which they intended to use to distribute Kwese TV content. That licence was cancelled by the CEO of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ). Why did he do that and can he do that? Let’s look at what both sides are saying.
- Dr Dish says: The BAZ CEO had no authority to cancel the licence.
The above-mentioned ‘players in the industry‘ did not respond to this.
(This would mean the licence is reinstated, at least until the board ratifies the cancellation decision. If a BAZ board is established and ratifies the CEO’s decision this argument would fall away.)
- Dr Dish says: The cancellation is irrational if it restricts their licence to just My TV Africa content. My TV Africa may have been mentioned explicitly in the licence application but that was not meant to be restrictive of the content distributors they could have. The identity of the content suppliers is immaterial since it is subject to change and subject to notice. This notice was given and was received by BAZ in 2016.
The players in the industry say the content supplier is integral to the licensing process and a change in supplier should lead to cancellation of the original licence. The licence awarded to Dr Dish was specific to My TV Africa and so should they want to distribute Kwese TV content, they need to apply for a new licence.
(This is the crux of the argument. It will all boil down to interpretation of the Broadcasting Services Act. The fact that BAZ accepted the notification given by Dr Dish of the change in content supplier back in 2016 raises a lot of questions. Why are they now recanting that acceptance? Who knows)
- Dr Dish says: Cancellation on the grounds of failure to pay licence fees for 3 years is not valid as the funds were obtained and were paid and received by BAZ, albeit just recently on the 18th August this year.
The players in the industry say the funds were obtained from a prospective content supplier and this may be Kwese TV working in the background to get a licence through a “weak” partner.
(BAZ does seem to be going back on decisions already made which may suggest external pressure to deny Dr Dish the authority to distribute Kwese TV. The argument about Dr Dish obtaining funds from their would-be supplier is invalid as there are no legal ramifications to that. Nowhere does the relevant Act prohibit this )
There are many other arguments from both sides but if the interpretation of the Broadcasting Services Act is agreed upon most of those would become irrelevant. If the case eventually goes to court it will be interesting to see what their interpretation of the law will be.
From what little we understand about the issues at hand do you think BAZ is justified in cancelling the licence? Or do you think it has something to do with some powerful people with interests in DStv protecting their investment? Or just sticking it to Strive Masiyiwa? Let us know what you think.
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