THE Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has granted a conditional authorisation for a merger between national broadcaster ZNBC and Hantex Corporation, which is controlled by China’s Startimes.
But the ZNBC board says the statement from CCPC must be taken in the context of national broadcaster and Star Times coming together to create Top Star Communication Company Limited.
According to a statement by the CCPC board yesterday, the application for the merger of the two institutions was made on June 20, 2018
According to statement signed by CCPC board chairperson Kelvin Bwalya Fube, shareholding in ZNBC would be relinquished upon full payment of an over $270 million loan obtained by the government for the digital migration exercise, which is one of the conditions.
“That the operational functions of Top Star shall be split into two entities. Top Star shall perform the functions of public signal distributor while ZNBC shall perform the subscriber management services and content provision services. The two entities shall relate on commercial basis at arms length. Top Star (JV) in their operations of signal distribution shall ensure that it provides access to entities that require signal distribution services on the same terms or those that would apply for ZNBC. And within a reasonable period of time as that accorded to ZNBC,” Fube stated.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the reasonable period shall be a period within which an entity requesting the services of Top Star JV would be able to operate economically without losing revenue or suffering losses due to delays by Top Star (JV). Top Star should sign services level agreements with all their customers and abide by the provisions of these agreements and notify the said agreements with the commission. That Star Times shall divest all its shareholding to ZNBC or the nominee of the Zambian Government within one year from the date of full loan amortisation and revert all the assets to ZNBC.”
Fube stated further that pursuant to Article 173 of the Zambian Constitution Chapter 1 of the Laws of Zambia, as read with section 31 of the CCP Act, the commission would periodically monitor the loan repayment.He also stated that in granting the conditional authorisation of the merger, the board of commissioners noted that there was no law on digital migration and that Top Star (VJ) was amenable to the Competition and Consumer Protection Act and that the loan the Zambian government obtained for digital migration has to be repaid.
“Top Star (VJ) shall not abuse their dominance in the signal distribution market…. Top Star (VJ) shall ensure that all pricing decisions and tariffs charged to their customers of signal distribution are approved by ZICTA,” stated Fube.
But ZNBC management, in a statement, stated that it was not true that the company had merged with Star Times.
ZNBC board chairman Mulenga Kapwepwe stated that ZNBC was hundred per cent owned by the citizens and could not be sold or taken over without the approval of Parliament.
She stated that the relationship between ZNBC and Start Times was in relations to the formation of the Joint venture company called Top Star.
Kapwepwe stated that the two companies had retained their full operational and ownership autonomy.
She stated that the relationship would not in any way affect the shareholding of ZNBC and Star Times as both parties remain independent.
Kapwepwe stated that the law allowed ZNBC to enter into agreements and partnerships as regard to its operations.
CCPC press statement