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Kwesé TV launches in South Africa, suspended in Zimbabwe

African pay-television broadcaster Kwesé TV has launched in South Africa, as it faces further problems in Zimbabwe.

Kwesé TV, which is operated by telecommunications company Econet Media and is a major sports broadcaster, has commenced operations in South Africa with an OTT service anchored by a partnership with online streaming service Netflix.

The Kwesé Play service will allow subscribers to stream Netflix and around another 100 channels. Kwesé TV has traditionally been offered via satellite television in other African markets but will be available via streaming only in South Africa as Econet’s Liquid Telecom brand already has a presence in the broadband internet market in the country.

“Kwese chose to launch in South Africa with a fibre optic based service rather than its normal satellite service, because it is the largest independent provider of fibre in South Africa,” Kwesé TV said, according to South African newspaper Business Report.

“Kwese Play will use any fibre optic provider, and will not be exclusive to Liquid.”

Meanwhile, Kwesé TV has suspended operations for the second time in Zimbabwe following a decision by the country’s regulator to appeal a ruling that granted permission for the service to broadcast.

Local newspaper The Standard said the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe has appealed a High Court ruling to the Supreme Court. Earlier this month, High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe, gave Kwesé TV, through its partner, Dr Dish, approval to broadcast.

However, the BAZ has now taken action claiming that the High Court has no authority to rule in the case. Kwesé TV has decided to suspend operations while awaiting the Supreme Court ruling.

“We would like to inform you that the broadcasting of Kwesé TV services has been temporarily suspended following an appeal to the Supreme Court by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ),” a statement read. “This appeal challenged the ruling which was issued in favour of Kwesé TV by the High Court.”

Kwesé Sports last major rights deal came last month as it acquired rights to International Association of Athletics Federations competitions throughout sub-Saharan Africa under an agreement with sports broadcaster ESPN. The six-year deal runs from 2018 to 2023.

Brokered by ESPN’s Media Distribution unit, the contract entitles Kwesé TV to become the exclusive broadcaster for IAAF events and content in sub-Saharan Africa. Content will feature across its free-to-air and pay-television channels, as well as the new Kwesé Play service.