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KBC, Zuku continue battle over World Cup rights

20 June 2014, 14:42 Millicent Kawii

Nairobi - The National Broadcaster does not have any exclusive rights in airing 2014 World Cup, a court was told yesterday.

Through lawyer Njoroge Rugeru, Zuku claimed that in matters of airing the matches, the modes of exploitation are on a free basis for both Television and radio and that the rights are applicable to media laws of a country.

During the hearing of a suit filed by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation challenging the airing of the World Cup matches via Zuku and Star Times, Wananchi Group for Zuku argued that KBC does not have any exclusivity as alleged as its agreement cannot be used to overrule Kenyan laws and the constitution.

“KBC does not own intellectual property rights, they belong exclusively to FIFA , the rights are applicable to media laws of a country, FIFA want to be proud all over the world for being watched and we are giving them exclusivity,” said Mr Rugeru.

Zuku claimed that they only transmit content  via satellite to all parts including those within which KBC does not reach and that branding and trademark protection is part of FIFA not the National Broadcaster.

They also claimed that they do not hack or interfere with broadcasting of KBC’s content as alleged.

“We do not broadcast , we package or interfere with anything, hacking is a new term, this is a public spirited competition and everyone has a right to view it,” explained  Mr Rugeru to High Court judge George Ogolla.

The judge demanded to know Zuku’s interest in airing the matches since Zuku claimed that they are doing it as a free service.

And Mr Rugeru said that there have only been mere allegations on the matches being watched at a fee yet the bottom line is that no one has been pointed out as the one who is exactly paying them or charging them.

Zuku also claimed to be aiding KBC reach where it does not as it is still analogue and that people already had a legitimate expectation about watching the matches hence they are providing the service free of charge.

They also argue that they have been airing KBC’s content through its channel 10 assigned to the National Broadcaster until the World cup time when it turn back on them to create an impression that they are a rogue company.

They further claimed that KBC or FIFA has not written to them to alert them of any breach.

“There is no possibility or exclusivity for KBC to trigger a breach of termination of contract, in fact the license should ensure widest coverage and maximized publicity,” said Mr Rugeru.

Earlier KBC’s lawyer Ken Ogeto told court that KBC has exclusive free to air rights to transmit the World Cup matches as approved by FIFA and therefore has a responsibility to stop unauthorized distribution.

Mr Ogeto said Zuku and Star Times have hacked into their rights illegally and attempted to benefit from an investment which they have not put in a single coin.

“Content is an intellectual property, Zuku and Star times have not demonstrated their rights, these are commercial entities with interests in a matter with copyright protection,” said Mr Ogeto.

KBC claim that if court does not permanently issue an injunction to stop the two pay TV’s from airing the 2014 World Cup, they may loose their exclusive airing rights unquantifiably.

Star Times , Pan African Network Group, and Wananchi Group want the case by KBC that blocked them from broadcasting the World Cup matches aired by national broadcaster dismissed.

Star times in their response to the suit had indicated that CCK told KBC that having allowed DSTV and Gotv — both pay TV services — to broadcast its signal, and denying other service providers the same was in breach of its universal obligation as contained in KBC Act.

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