Kwese Television wins the day

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Under his company Dr Dish, the brother Charles Takawengwa was offering MyTV, which was a Middle Eastern digital satellite service provider in the mould of DSTV circa 2009.

State of the art with Admire Kudita

I know the brother who started Dr Dish from the days when he used to operate from Pioneer House in Bulawayo. Well, it ran for a while and then it went into a hiatus. I suppose the choppy waters of our socio-economic enviroment are able to capsize even the Titanic!

Resurrection day

Several years down the line, Dr Dish is back in the news and is now the conduit for Kwese TV. You can imagine my bemusement.

It seems that ideas have a tendency to favour certain conditions and that real entrepreneurs never die, they merely hibernate. One day they get to pop a huge champagne bottle, as may well be in this case.

Judgement

The following excerpt encapsulates Justice Charles Hungwe’s judgement. The effect has been the resumption of Kwese TV offering the public its services in my view:

“The problem is not the subscriber’s creation nor did they knowingly contribute to it. In my view, the balance of convenience favour the granting of the relief sought. Consequently, the application succeeds. It is therefore ordered as follows:
“Pending the final determination of this matter it is ordered that:

1. The operation of the purported termination of Applicant’s Content Distribution Service License Number CD 0004 through a letter dated 22 August 2017 signed by Second Respondent on First Respondent’s letterhead be and is hereby suspended.
2. Applicant shall be entitled to enjoy the full rights and benefits of its license as if the said letter of 22 August 2017 does not exist.

3. Applicant shall be entitled to distribute the Econet Media Limited (Mauritius) content based on the technical standards notified by the Applicant to the First Respondent and accepted by First Respondent on 21 October 2016.”
Allred and Cochran?

Kwese TV’s lawyers in the case, Beatrice Mtetwa and Tawanda Nyambirai, have loomed large in the Zimbabwean legal fraternity in these high-profile cases. This case is the second time around for Nyambirayi, who was part of the legal team that successfully litigated to win Econet’s licence yesteryear. Small wonder that he was once again helming this déjàvu case.

People’s way forward

It is the people that wish for media plurality, if one is to go by the findings of the Zimbabwe Information Media Panel of Inquiry report, which government commissioned. I do believe that the way forward is for government to live and let live with regard to this case.

This may be hard considering that government owns some shares in Multichoice via Transmedia Holdings. It is fair comment to submit that government had a pecuniary interest in a case it was presiding over. The conflict of interest is clear to a reasonable person and the action by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe of suspending Kwese TV’s licence is perhaps understandable from that standpoint. But there is no need for gloating on Econet’s part.

Civil society might want to milk this moment for all that its worth in terms of the “victory”. Time will tell.

What creatives say

A player in civic society Josh Nyapimbi is not overly excited about Kwese TV’s roll out.

“By the way, the market should not deceived by the entry of Kwese TV in terms of having an affordable product. I think our experience with Econet telecoms packages against their rivals Telecel and Netone are a good example or a bad example,”said the Nhimbe Trust boss. “I believe that Kwese TV’s licensing gives us, as Zimbabwean filmmakers, more options to sell our films, so we become more empowered as creatives in that we are not forced to settle for the first deal we get because it’s the only one we have. Now we can produce an even wider range of meaningful stories because different broadcasters have different restrictions and locally, our creativity has often been stifled by broadcaster censorship and some amazing stories, topics or imagery are never explored on TV because of this. With Kwese TV’s licensing and purchasing of new Zimbabwean content, Africa and the world are about to see a whole new breed of Zimbabwean film,” Nhle Nzima, a young film maker said.

Caution

Some observers such as the producer of current Zambezi Magic programme, The Arthur C. Evans show, Trey Ncube, were altogether hopeful and cautious.

“This is a great development for both the creative sector and general public because, from an audience perspective, they have made aggressive moves to provide quality international programming at very competitive rates, thus giving DStv competition in the ‘pay per view’ arena and from a content producers’ point of view, it gives us, as creatives, a third alternative in terms of options of getting content commissioned.

“However, it remains to be seen what their approach is with regards to local producers, whether they will be making concerted efforts to solicit content from us.”

At the time of going to print, Econet Media had not yet responded to my seven questions.

Lovemore Nyatsine explained to me that protocol required that he deferred to Econet Media’s Dorothy Zimuto. I am waiting still.

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