Kwese TV distributor accuses DStv of consumer exploitation. Kettles & Pots?

L.S.M Kabweza Avatar

In the letter Kwese TV distributors wrote to the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe seeking to have their licence restored, the company accused BAZ of protecting DStv. Dr Dish explains in the letter that DStv is enjoying regulator protection while exploiting Zimbabwean customers.

The letter paints the picture that the current state of the TV market, where a monopoly is milking customers of their forex, is part of why an alternative in the form of Kwese TV is critically needed. Cancelling an alternative’s licence therefore, Dr Dish says, is irrational and unpatriotic.

Dr Dish notes the following problems with DStv and solutions that Kwese TV brings:

  • DStv exploiting Zim consumer by charging a huge premium compared to what they charge South Africans
  • DStv requiring Zimbabweans to pay in forex (USD, Rand…) resulting in DStv becoming one of Zimbabwe’s biggest forex outflow channels.
  • Kwese content is much cheaper and therefore better for the consumer.
  • Kwese TV is owned by the Zimbabwean “Masiyiwa family” and that because they understand the hardships faced by Zimbabweans, have accepted to take bond notes and electronic payments, basically taking a hit on immediate forex payments (required to buy that football content) while growing the Kwese TV service.

You can read the full letter here in an article we posted earlier today.

This direct reference to DStv’s charging and labelling it exploitative is interesting coming from an operator as opposed to a regulator or a consumer protection body. The way we see it, especially concerning DStv, is that it’s market forces at play.

When a company is a monopoly in a market, you would certainly expect them to charge premium rates. It’s up to the regulator to ensure that operators charge consumer friendly tariffs. Multichoice doesn’t provide a basic human need like water or communication. Its customers choose to buy the entertainment subscriptions the same way some Zim customers choose to buy extremely expensive iPhones. Those that think iPhone prices are exploitative buy cheap Android phones instead. If you think DStv is too expensive, you switch to the cheaper ZBC TV.

Ironically, a number of times Econet Wireless Zimbabwe customers have complained that Econet data rates are exploitative and that the company takes advantage of having good network coverage, great signal, LTE and other advantages to charge a premium. The competition, just like DStv’s, are companies that have an inferior offering. No one forces consumers to choose Econet. Some Econet customers know that, while paying a premium, they are getting the best LTE in the market given their choices.

Dr Dish is right that having an alternative is a great thing for consumers. Prices come down the exact same way that DStv is reducing prices in Zambia, Kenya and other markets right now.

In Zimbabwe, if there was an MNO offering mobile data at par with Econet, customers of the largest mobile data provider in Zimbabwe would not be enduring an exploitative 15 cents per megabyte. It’s business. These ‘DStv is exploitative’ sentiments therefore feel very much the case of a kettle calling the pot black.

That said, the big problem for DStv is that the government of Zimbabwe owns a stake in Multichoice Zimbabwe. We the people, the taxpayers, own a stake in the company that’s not only charging us exorbitantly, it is taking that much needed forex outside the country!


  1. Sagitarr

    I feel that both players should offer their services and compete fairly. More people will subscribe to the better service provider. Currently, repeats are a headache with DStv and showing us movies we saw 40 years ago is not exactly my kind of entertainment. I do understand though, that the rate at which new movies are being produced cannot match demand.

  2. TheKing

    They do have a point though on DSTV exploiting the masses. We pay for the service in hard currency yet it’s more expensive for us. It’s cheaper in S.A where they pay in a much weaker currency. Despite being expensive, DSTV Zim has much less content for the same package compared to DSTV S.A. However, this is no ground for their argument. They should argue purely on legal grounds

  3. Cheated

    Techzim….I was on kwese side… But the question is are they using Dr dish to by pass actually licensing themselves… Dr dish themselves got the license for speculative purposes…I mean they probably going on to it and then offered it to kwese….I think they should sort directly and pay up

    1. reading

      ….i am not a law guru but my understanding of the broadcasting act is licencing process is initiated upon invitation by the authorities. in other words, authorities call for invitations to apply for various forms of broadcasting eg community radio, tv etc….Meaning that one can not merely wek up to apply for a licence, but has to wait for a time when invitation for licening from the authorities are flighted.

    2. e

      no Dr dish paid for a license for a service that wasn’t a hot amongst southern Africans. and kwese saw kuti with our gvt It is never getting a license in ita capacity anytime soon. so its pure business use what someone else til you can own or get for own. just like what all smaller isps do pay zol powertel dandemutande telco africom to connect you till they get a new license or better infrastructure.

  4. TV

    Competition solves over-pricing problems by putting suppliers into potential trouble instead through price wars. The fact that the potential competitors are fighting tool and nail right at the onset is perfect for customers because then the chances of colluding in pricing become minimal, at least in the short to medium term.

  5. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    Most of us didn’t even know of a Dr. Dish a month ago, and now they are some authority on the entertainment landscape. That’s ludicrous. Dr. Dish was idly sitting on a licence all along, now they want to stand on a mountain and making noise because they found a deal to cash-in on their licence. Why were they silent all along about DSTV? Because they had nothing to offer.

    Kwese should just get their own licence, they had enough time to do so, way before they even bought their first Kwese decoder. You must follow procedures.

  6. Future chorwira

    Kwete is, most, ideal for, Zimbabweans given the forex demands from Dsrv, and the inavalability of, money to the majority, of viewers

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