Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Media has acquired Uganda’s troubled TV broadcaster WBS TV Station. The Zimbabwean enterpreneur has received the green light to purchase Wava Broadcasting Station (WBS TV) Station, which according to media reports was once the most viewed station in Uganda before running into headwinds before it was placed under receivership by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) due to US $2 million in unpaid taxes.
The EastAfrican reported that telecoms industry regulator Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the Uganda Broadcasting Council have also approved the acquisition of WBS TV by Strive Masiyiwa.
WBS was previously owned by Ugandan entrepreneur Gordon Wavamunno. Apart from WBS TV, Wavamunno also has a stake in other media companies including Wavah FM, a private radio station, and Star Times Digital Satellite TV, a digital satellite distributor of TV signals in Uganda.
WBS required a capital injection of at least US $566,881 to turn it around.
The acquisition by a new owner will seemingly lead to WBS TV current 90 staff being asked to re-apply afresh for their jobs.
In a letter posted on the firm’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Kabiito Karamagi, the receiver manager stated that WBS TV will cease to operate as a public broadcaster on December 14, 2016 adding that all of the company’s existing contracts will also terminate on that date.
“As a result of this development, WBS Limited will cease to operate as public broadcaster on 14 December 2016 in line with the commitments made to the industry regulator… Therefore, I regret that all the company’s existing contracts will have to terminate by that date,” stated Karamagi, in the letter, attached below.
Zimbabwe’s Tech Unzipped reports that Masiyiwa has already sent out an email to staff requesting them to re-apply for their jobs.
“We are not trying to relieve you of your jobs, all we ask is that you just re-apply as procedures at Kwese TV dictate. We shall give all of you our former employees first priority as long as you meet the requirements of this new vision…As a result of this development, WBS Limited will cease to operate as a public broadcaster on 14th December 2016 in line with the undertakings made to the industry regulator…Therefore I regret that all the company’s existing contracts will have to be terminated by that date,” the Econet founder states in the email, according to the Tech Unzipped article.
Econet Media currently operates the Kwesse TV brand in Africa, and indications are that WBS TV will also be rebranded to Kwese.
Kwese, the free-to-air sports channel, already has a presence in Kenya, Rwanda and Malawi. Meaning that by rebranding WBS TV to Kwese TV will make Econet Media have a presence in Uganda.