Satellite television

“Satellite” TV companies accused of “stealing intellectual property” in Liberia

Monrovia – FrontPageAfrica has seen documents which seem to indicate that some television companies, which provide satellite content to their customers, do so illegally.

The documents revealed that these “satellite” television companies illegally broadcast their content, including football matches, without the authorized consents of the various owners of their content.

These satellite TV companies include SATCON, NANA SAT, K3 Telecom and DSTV. Among these foreign-owned companies, the first three have been directly accused by some content owners of illegally distributing their content. The documents show that DSTV has not been charged with stealing content to broadcast to its Liberian audience.

Among the content owners, including LaLiga, beIN SPORTS, SHOWTIME, CANA + OVERSEA and PREMIER LEAGUE, they accuse these three companies of illegally distributing their content, mainly football matches.

LaLiga and the others have formally filed a complaint against these companies with the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), which is the branch of the Liberian government that exercises direct surveillance over these television companies.

SATCON and the other companies have also reportedly received carbon copies (cc) of the complaints against them.

As FrontPageAfrica Furthered these allegations, he learned that only DSTV, which is a subsidiary of Multi Choice, has the exclusive right to broadcast Super Sports content in English, while CANA + OVERSEA has the exclusive right to do so in French to their public Liberia. .

According to complaints filed with the LTA, beIN SPORTS, whose content is also broadcast live in Liberia, says their content, especially the football aspect, is not, for the time being, to be sold in Liberia, but has been informed that their content is being broadcast live in Liberia by these companies.

“We understand that SuperSport International Limited is the license of the English Premier League in the territory of Liberia and that SuperSport has obtained the live television rights to the English Premier League competition during the three English football seasons beginning with the season 2013/2014 “, beIN SPORTS communication indicated.

“We hereby confirm that the following should not be permitted in Liberia; the import, sale or distribution of beIN decoding equipment; sale of subscriptions to watch beIN SPORTS channels; use of beIN decoding equipment in connection with rebroadcasting or commercial distribution, e.g. broadcast station, cable operations, pubs, clubs, hotels, resorts and viewing centers .

In accordance with the LTA Act, Part XI, the LTA may issue regulations, rules or orders relating to one or more of the following: (a) requiring that certain types of telecommunications equipment be certified or approved before being imported , commercially supplied or attached to any telecommunications network; (b) identify certification criteria and / or approval standards for telecommunications equipment intended for use in telecommunications services or telecommunications networks; (c) identification of domestic or foreign organizations or testing facilities for the certification or approval of telecommunications equipment for use in telecommunications services or telecommunications networks; or (d) establish a register of certified or approved types of telecommunications equipment, certification criteria and approval standards.

The law also states that the LTA may enter into mutual recognition agreements or similar agreements with authorities in other countries to provide for the recognition of equipment certification or type approvals conducted in the other country and / or in Liberia. .

In the complaint of the Spanish Liga Santander, under the signature of its legal director Maria José López Lorenzo on May 13, 2019, they told both NANASAT and SATCON: “We inform you that the television operator Super Sports is authorized to broadcast matches of LaLiga competitions in all languages ​​except Spanish and French in the territory of Liberia. In addition, the international operator Cana + has authorized the broadcasting of matches from LaLiga competitions in Liberia in French.

Ms López Lorenzo said that Super Sports informed them that this exclusive right is also used by the stations mentioned above.

“SuperSport has informed us that you are broadcasting audiovisual content of LaLiga competitions to the public without the prior permission or consent of LaLiga, Super Sports or Cana + International. With regard to the above, we inform you that the acts of counterfeiting mentioned above seriously infringe our exclusive license agreement ”, warned the legal director of LaLiga.

“Consequently, you are required to immediately stop any act of broadcasting, and more broadly, any communication to the public of audiovisual content of the LaLiga competition (live or not, in whole or in part), and within three calendar days following receipt of this letter confirms that you have acceded to our request.

LaLiga threatened to take legal action against the television companies if they did not stop broadcasting its content.

In 2016, Cana + International also wrote the LTA to complain about a similar content violation by some companies operating in Liberia.

“We confirm that we are the holders of a SuperSport sublicense under the English Premier League in French in the territories of sub-Saharan Africa, including the territory of Liberia on a non-exclusive basis during the term. We hereby confirm that no cable operator, pub, hotel or rebroadcasting operator has been authorized by Canal + OVERSEAS to broadcast and / or market our content / signal without our authorization and our consent is illegal and causes us harm. and irreparable damage, ”the letter said.

NANASAT and SATCON declined to comment on the matter after several visits to their offices for comment. Staff at the SATCON office in Congo Town refused to grant an audience to our reporter after the problem was explained to them.

For NANASAT on Benson Street, the four letter word, F **** was used on our reporter when he explained the nature of the story to staff at that entity.

However, LTA, which regulates this sector, said FrontPageAfrica that they could not verify communications from LaLiga, beIN SPORTS, SHOWTIME, CANA + OVERSEA and PREMIER LEAGUE as to whether SATCON, NANASAT and others have the right to broadcast the matches.

LTA’s Director of Public Affairs, Ms. Jarsea Burphy, responded: “LTA has not received any verifiable letters from any of the entities listed above.

She noted that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the world’s governing body for telecommunications, has issued two general guidelines requiring all member states to adhere to minimum standards for the acquisition and use of equipment.

ITU requires that all equipment used does not interfere with other legitimately allocated frequencies and will not constitute an environmental hazard to the public.

She further stated that LTA will need the coordinated efforts of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to effectively ensure compliance.

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