August 27, 2020

StarTimes dismisses Senate report, says N200bn not missing

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By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor

The management of NTA-Star TV Network Ltd, on Thursday, dismissed a report from Senate’s Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning that N200 billion gained from a joint venture between the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, and the StarTimes Group was missing.

The company said it was open to a forensic audit on its finances and operations, if the government wishes to carry out an audit.

In a statement by the Public Relations Manager, StarTimes Nigeria, Lazarus Ibeabuchi, the company said: “We also want to clarify that no revenue is missing as gross earnings have been repeatedly plowed back into the cost of production to cover the cost of components.

“These include transmitters, equipment, generating sets and satellite, content acquisition, as well as operating costs, which include salaries and other running costs, incurred within our 10 years of operation.

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“NTA-Star TV Network Limited is a responsible corporate organisation, with our business activities conforming to statutory laws and regulations.

“Our accounts are audited by one of the big four audit firms in the world, widely known for their integrity and professionalism in the audit field.

“Aside from our statutory audits being carried out by external auditors, our financial activities are fully audited by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.

“The loss in our operations over the years is a result of the fact that our huge upfront investment is in the US dollars and the long-term cost recovery has met brick-walls with successive years of naira depreciation.

“Pay-TV business is capital intensive and has a long gestation period. More than 80 percent of inputs into our operations are dollar-denominated.

“The naira fluctuations haven’t been favourable to the business, making it more and more difficult to meet dollar-denominated obligations.”

Ibeabuchi, however, said the company regretted the outcome of the Senate hearing, saying it amounts to a media trial without due diligence.

He said, to that extent, StarTimes was open to a proper investigation into its operations and financials.