Ghana set for free-to-air sport after Econet-MTG deal

Ghana is set for its first free-to-air sports broadcasting platform after telecommunications firm Econet Media acquired the free-television broadcasting and production businesses of multi-territory commercial and pay-television broadcaster Modern Times Group in the country and its fellow African nation Nigeria.

MTG has completed the sale of its interests in Ghana and Nigeria to Econet Media for an undisclosed consideration. The Ghanaian side of the deal includes MTG’s free-to-air terrestrial channel Viasat 1 and Modern African Productions. Econet Media has acquired all MTG assets in Ghana as well as MAP’s operations in Ghana and Nigeria as part of the deal and will retain all staff.

The process will now begin to officially rebrand Viasat 1 to Kwesé Free Sports, Econet Media’s premium free-to-air sports channel within its Kwesé TV network. Having launched in August, Kwesé Free Sports is the continent’s first truly pan-African free-to-air sports channel which is available in 19 countries of which five; Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Uganda and now Ghana, have the full 24/7 channel.

The channel’s programming line-up includes football’s English Premier League, North American basketball league the NBA, American football league the NFL and the Formula One motor-racing championship.

Econet said the entry of Kwesé Free Sports represents an industry first in Ghana where the local FTA industry has focused on general entertainment programming with few, if any options for sports programming outside of pay-television.

Group chief executive and president of Econet Media, Joseph Hundah, said: “This acquisition marks a significant milestone for the growth of our business and Ghana is an important market for us as we expand our offering across the continent.”

MTG said the previously announced sale of its free-television broadcasting business in Tanzania to Econet Media is pending local regulatory approval and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

It added that the sales reflect MTG’s ongoing strategic transformation from a traditional broadcaster into a digital video entertainment company.