New pay-television service provider, TSTV, has been accused of intellectual property theft by two property owners, CNN and beIN, a Qatar-based sports and entertainment provider operating in New Zealand, US, South East Asia and North Africa among other zones.
In a letter dated 27 September and addressed to TSTV and copied to the Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Turner Broadcasting System Europe Limited, owners of exclusive distribution rights to the CNN channel in English, said TSTV obtained no authorization before including its property among the channels to be carried in Nigeria.
The accusation was based on a channel line- up obtained from the website of TStv, which launched on 1 October.
Signed by Eleanore Browne, Director, Turner Broadcasting System Limited, the letter warned TSTV to immediately desist from distributing the company’s channel, as it has no authorization to do so.
“It has come to our attention that TStv intends to launch on 1 October 2017 a package of channels that would include CNN. In this respect, the distribution of the above-mentioned channel in Africa, including in Nigeria, has to be authorized in advance.
“This would amount to an unlawful use, which will infringe the rights and harm the interests of our company and cause us substantial prejudice,” Turner stated.
It called on TSTV to undertake in writing not to distribute CNN and not to use or produce CNN trademarks in any advertising or promotional item. Turner threatened to, in the event of TStv’s refusal to heed the warning, take legal steps by instituting civil and criminal proceedings.
The receipt of the letter by TSTV was acknowledged by one Umana Kufre on 29 September.
In similar vein, beIN, accused TSTV of illegal piracy of its content and warned the new pay-Television service provider to immediately desist from distributing its entertainment and sport content, as such amounts to intellectual property infringement. A letter from beIN to TSTV, dated 28 September, was copied to the Director-General, Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and its receipt was acknowledged on 29 September by an official of the commission. It was received by Umana Kufre on behalf of TSTV on the same day.
The content owners said it became aware of TSTV’s plan to include in its package a number of their channels through the new pay-TV provider’s website. The content owners stated that TSTV has no authorization to distribute its channels.
“We have become aware that your company, TSTV, intends to launch a pay-television service in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa generally. Information on this service is contained on the website http://tstvafrica.com,” beIN stated in the letter, which also contained an image of its trademarks showing on the referenced website.
While stating that it invested huge sums to acquire rights to the property and on content production, it warned that other parties are not allowed to rebroadcast or copy its property or use its trademark without authorization.