StarTimes DRC: one year of digital content amid controversy
By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo
Twelve months ago, StarTimes was a relatively unknown company in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but currently the Chinese pay TV operator has become the talk of the town in every street corner and marketplace of this Central African nation.
The reason is that it has been supplying digital TV content in the past year to the viewers in exchange for a low subscription fee via an uncomplicated process (no dish required, only a decoder attached with a small but powerful aerial).
This has earned the operator an absolute love and respect both from the poorest of the poor and the media which always preach the suffering of the majority of the Congolese people.
But the success of StarTimes DRC was not well digested by certain quarters, which immediately launched a set of 'investigations' into the affairs of the Chinese-owned media company.
The operator, which was initially accused of operating illegally in the country, had its signal suspended for a few days but quickly restored thanks to the urgent intervention of the Presidency.
Mystery solved but not fully explained. Nevertheless, Startimes DRC survived and life went on as if nothing happened.
And now that the company is celebrating the first anniversary of its operations in the DRC, the focus is to forget the past and move on with the flow of innovation.
The Beijing-based company, which operates in 15 African countries, said it will soon add a third bouquet in the DRC on top of the current two, Basic and Classic.
The operator's launch of the sport programme Sport2, has delighted its customers in this sport-mad nation, where good TV programmes are rare and digital content is a luxury.
"I love Sport2, I love StarTimes a lot because it helps poor people like us get access to digital content. I wish them a happy annniversary," Godfrey Nzonda told Biztechafrica.
The company has thanked all its customers, especially in the capital Kinshasa, who have shown their confidence in its content and did not abandon it when days were dark.
Kinshasa has eight StarTimes shops: Supermarket GGMart, Lemba, Lingwala, Kasa-Vubu, Masina, Limete, Kintambo and UPN.