The state broadcaster, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) is yet to receive dividends from its 40% share of the supposed joint venture it secured with Multichoice Africa in 1994.
This is according to documents produced by a Parliamentary committee which argues that the national broadcaster has been receiving zero dividends since 2017, despite taking up the partnership with Multichoice decades ago.
According to the documents released by the Public Investments Committee on Social Services, Administration and Agriculture chaired by Navakholo MP Emmanuel Wangwe, KBC is said to have gotten into a joint venture with Multichoice Africa Limited in 1995.
At the time, the national broadcaster enjoyed access and licensing to TV broadcast frequencies.
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Multichoice Africa was then able to utilize KBC’s access to the TV frequencies through the Signet platform as well as KBC infrastructure such as broadcast masts spread across ten locations in the country.
However, during its scrutiny of some of the documents tabled by KBC management, the committee discovered that the Corporation’s books of accounts and the Auditor-General’s reports show nothing in terms of revenue generated from this supposed partnership.
Initially, KBC was offered 40% of shares in Multichoice Kenya, a local subsidiary of Multichoice Africa. Multichoice Africa remained with 60% shareholding.
The committee also learnt that the deal entailed KBC contributing 30% in direct funds to the venture and another 10% in form of co-location which included its extensive infrastructure such as land and telecommunication masts.
In a letter dated February 28th, 2017, the Communications Authority (CA) acknowledges receiving a request from KBC to transfer frequencies initially assigned to KBC-owned SIGNET to GOtv Kenya Limited that is owned by Multichoice-effectively ceding the ownership of the frequencies from the state broadcaster.
This move eliminated the leverage that KBC had wielded since independence in matters broadcast and effectively sealed the fate of the broadcaster.