GTV Kenya ceases operation

Monday February 02 2009

GTV Kenya ceased operations on Saturday after the board of directors of its parent company, Gateway Broadcast Services (GBS), approved a plan to liquidate the company.

The pay television network left thousands of subscribers, including many English Premier League fans, stunned as it withdrew its services. It had been scheduled to broadcast a live Manchester United versus Everton match on Saturday and a Chelsea versus Liverpool match on Sunday.

Exclusive rights

GTV used its exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League matches to gain a following in Kenya.

In an interview with the Sunday Nation’s Lifestyle last February, GBS commercial director Rhys Torrington said his company, which is based in London, won the Premier League contract after “paying a fortune,” and said the rights would expire in 2010.

Subscribers expressed dismay with the company for ceasing operations without notice. They received only a short message telling them the channel had gone off the air.


GTV Kenya is yet to issue an official statement even as some subscribers protested outside its head office on Riverside Drive in Nairobi.

Calls to GTV Kenya offices were unanswered, and its website only carries the statement from the board of directors of the parent company.

Barely a week ago, the head of GTV Kenya Charles Waithaka spoke of how well the company was doing, saying it had managed to start operations in 22 countries in only two years.

The directors’ statement also mentions that GBS had invested over Sh16 billion in Africa and created thousands of jobs.

“We are hurt by the move. They should have given us notice instead of withdrawing suddenly,” said Mr Abdul Hamza, the general manger of Hooters Restaurant in Nairobi.

In explaining their decision to approve plans to liquidate the company, the GBS board cited the global financial crisis.

“Increased instability in global markets has interrupted our ability to secure funding on an acceptable time scale and has left us no choice but to cease operations,” the statement read.

Several African football federations and leagues that GTV Africa sponsored will feel the effects of this sudden move.

The Uganda Football Association had a five-year contract worth Sh200 million.

GTV were also the sponsors of the East and Central African tournament and the CECAFA Cup as well as domestic leagues in Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda.


GTV Kenya was the second pay TV in Kenya, after South Africa’s DStv MultiChoice, and began operations on June 29, 2007.

In his interview, Mr Torrington said the GBS foray into Africa was the fulfilment of a dream company president Julian McIntryre had to introduce a pay TV network in Africa that would rival DStv.

“We realise the negative impact this has had on our loyal customers, creditors and staff, all of whom have believed in GTV and the revolution in pay TV it had created. We have tried every possible step to keep the company going, but we are the unfortunate victims of the current global economic crisis,” the statement read.

It was not clear whether the company had sold the broadcasting rights to the Premier League matches or whether it would refund cash to subscribers.

Subscribers could choose from three packages: G Prime, G Choice and G Home, for Sh2,750, Sh1,390 and Sh790.