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Relief for consumers after court's ruling against Pay-TV companies

New ruling saves consumers

Pay-TV companies to broadcast free to air channels

Court of Appeal judges upheld a ruling by the High Court that had blocked pay-tv firms from locking out competitors who air-free broadcast channels.

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An appeal by MultiChoice Limited challenging Judge Mumbi Ngugi’s judgement on the sale of locked set-top boxes was tossed out by the appellate court.

In her judgement, Justice Ngugi had directed that all set-top boxes be open and operable between networks.

MultiChoice was not pleased with Justice Ngugi's ruling and moved to the court of appeal arguing the judge had erred by addressing the set-top boxes issue.

Court battle

The firm argued that Justice Ngugi ought to have restricted herself to the licensing of signal distribution but the appellate judges noted that MultiChoice failed to provide sufficient evidence to warrant overturning of the High Court judgment.

"... on a full consideration of the material on record and arguments before us, I have concluded that no grounds have been presented to us to warrant interference with the learned judge’s exercise of discretion,” Justice William Ouko ruled.

MultiChoice offers different programmes through its DStv and GoTV set-top boxes that are only available to subscribers who pay a monthly fee.

When the subscription lapses, its customers are blocked from accessing both its programmes and free-to-air content provided by other broadcasters.

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