July 30, 2018 / 3:43 PM / 22 days ago

Tanzania mulling length of suspension for China's Star Media

NAIROBI, July 30 (Reuters) - Tanzania’s telecommunications regulator is considering for how long it should suspend Chinese multinational media company StarTimes’ local subsidiary after saying it failed to stick to its license obligations.

StarTimes has been operating in Africa since 2002 and has subsidiaries in more than 30 African countries, including the continent’s biggest economies in Nigeria and South Africa. It boasts nearly 10 million subscribers, according to its website.

In Tanzania, Star Media (Tanzania) Co., Ltd. operates as a joint venture between StarTimes and the state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC).

Last week the regulator issued a public notice saying that the company was not complying with its obligation to provide access to free to air content services as required by their license.

“Since Star Media Tanzania has breached the law and has refused to pay the fine and refused to ensure free to air television channels are viewed by consumers freely ... the authority hereby notifies the general public that it intends to suspend all the licences issued to Star Media Tanzania Limited,” Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) said.

Philip Filikunjombe, TCRA’s acting Head of Enforcement and Compliance Affairs, said the next step is to consult with the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications before the suspension can be issued.

“We haven’t yet said how long the suspension will be, it’s under consideration,” Filikunjombe told Reuters.

Star Media was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

Local newspaper The Citizen on Saturday quoted a Star Media spokesperson as saying the company operates its business legally and will communicate with TCRA, believing it will reach a consensus soon with the regulator on how to move forward. (Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by George Obulutsa and Kirsten Donovan)

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