UBC MD Kihika Faces Axe over Star Times World Cup Scandal


sick geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 115%;”>Documents seen by the Chimpreports indicate more than a month before the start of the tournament the African Union of Broadcasters AUB informed all its members to desist from entering any partnerships with Star Times because of contractual obligations with the global body FIFA.

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On May 14 AUB wrote the following to its members including UBC:

“It has been brought to our attention that Star Times Media Company has established a partnership with some AUB member organisations and is using that relationship to promote the sale of its digital decoders with the 2014 FIFA World cup in Brazil.”

It added: “This is a very serious breach of the provisions of FIFA/AUB member organisations media agreement. We appeal to all the member organisations which are in such partnerships to ask Star Times to put an immediate stop to such activities.”

Despite the warning, UBC chose to ignore the directive and has been airing the matches since the opening day complete with the Star times logo.

It has since been established that UBC entered a partnership with Star on the 7th March of this year for Shs200m.

The agreement provides for among other things exclusivity of sponsorship and the number of adverts they will air.

Minister out

Fortunately for UBC, the Minister of Information Rose Namayanja was abroad on an official trip to China when the scandal first unfolded but sources close to her indicate she is ready to crack the whip should the allegations prove to be founded.

There is belief she might fasttrack the appointment of the new board whose names have already been forwarded to Parliament for this purpose.

“UBC will play a very important role in Uganda’s digital migration which must take place before the end of the year. We cannot have the company being led by a loose cannon,” said the source.

The sacking of Kihika over World cup rights would not be new in the region.

David Waweru, the then MD of KBC, was dismissed over a similar scandal in 2010 before the World Cup in South Africa after signing a personal and exclusive deal with Patrick Quarcoo – owner of Kiss FM in Nairobi.

According to FUFA signing the agreement with Star is a very risky move by UBC because FIFA views the issue of rights very seriously as it is their principal source of income and they are bound by contract to ensure there are no violations of the rights occur in any of the 219 FIFA affiliated territories.

“I would not be surprised if FIFA does not ask the AUB to terminate the World Cup satellite feed to Uganda if the situation is not sorted out soon,” said a FUFA official.

“This would undo all the Ugandan President’s good intentions of paying 600,000 USD for the World Cup rights and means millions of Ugandans will miss the remainder of the tournament in Brazil cup”.

Questions are being asked about the motives of the UBC management who had been given ample warning about the issue but chose to ignore the AUB directives putting Uganda in a collision course with FIFA.

It appears the MD Mr Paul Kihika in an attempted to distance himself from the scandal penned a letter to Star instructing them to stop airing the matches.

Needless to say, Star times continued to do so even adding the Star times logo onscreen, a situation that could only be possible with full knowledge and collusion of the UBC management.

UCC cracks whip

The Uganda Communications Commission which is the industry regulator UCC has since taken up the matter and has written to Star directing them to stop showing the matches or risk legal action.

On the June 16, UCC boss, Godfrey Mutabazi wrote: “The commission hereby directs that you immediately halt the production placement and airing of any advertisements and broadcast of the 2014 World cup matches via the UBC channel on your network. Failure to do so, the commission will proceed to take legal action against you.”

On Tuesday staying true to their word, the UCC duly went ahead and removed Star’s broadcasting equipment from their mast in Naguru disconnecting hundreds of Star Times subscribers in the process.

It is not known if and when Star will be allowed back on but sources close to the management at the UCC indicate they are considering all options including revoking Stars broadcasting license indefinitely or fining the company heavily.a


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