A TV shows Kwese Free Sports (KFS) channel. KFS, which started broadcasting in Uganda in December last year, is part of Kwese TV which is a 24-hour sports content broadcasting free-to-air channel operating in 18 countries across the African continent.
interview By Dorothy Nakaweesi
In December last year, Uganda Revenue Authority announced that the WBS licence had been sold and the brand name of WBS TV had ceased to exist. This followed the media company’s failure to pay Shs7 billion tax debt it owed the tax collector.
A new investor from Zimbabwe had taken over the business effective December 14. Days later Kwese Free Sports (KFS) was introduced on the market. Prosper Magazine’s Dorothy Nakaweesi caught up with the general manager of KFS, Mr Ben Mwine, on TV industry issues, what they have been up to in the last four months, and much more. Below are the excerpts:
Why did you take over a failing company?
A lot of people think we simply took over WBS but we did not take it over. WBS just shut down and we bought the assets.
But also because they (WBS) had a descent team, we managed to get a lot of people who were already working with them. But of course we are a new and independent entity. We are working on all that.
The biggest issue is the building is still called WBS House and so there is not much we can do about the name of the building but we are going to make sure we rebrand the building.
Apart from the building we bought everything involving broadcasting. But again we will be rebranding the building and you will be able to see Kwese from a sizeable distance.
What exactly is Kwese Free Sports?
Kwese Free Sports (KFS) is part of Kwese TV which is the biggest free-to-air channel in Africa.
We operate in 18 countries and we are an extremely new proposition in the market with 24-hour sports content broadcasting. We shall be mixing.
We intend to do more live reporting than recorded programmes.
We have a lot of premium live content including Premier League games, Formula One and we have exclusive rights to NBA. What is important here is all this is broadcast on a free channel. We think KFS will be a good bet for people who like sports.
However, it is also a family-friendly TV. All this will be found on Kwese TV in a month or so.
Make this clear. What could be the difference between KFS and Kwese TV?
We shall have two platforms. One will be free-to- air and the other will be for subscription. KFS is already on a number of platforms such as StarTimes, GOtv, free-to-air decoders and Kwese TV.
We are the same company but different entities. Kwese TV, which has more than 60 channels, will be a paid up platform. It will have a decoder system with a revamped subscription system that will enable the viewer to subscribe for as low as three days.
We are launching next month, but the decoders will be available on the market effective this week. A full kit will cost about Shs142, 000. This includes a dish, decoder, smart card and installation and the first month subscription is free and payment will be flexible.
Kwese TV has more than 60-channels, including three sports, movie, children and faith-based channels, among others.
What is so special about Kwese TV?
The product is unique in itself because we are providing both free-to-air and paid up-based TV.
I would want to believe it is the first of its kind around. For instance, our KFS platform has no competition and we believe we have the best products for our viewers.
We shall be big on sports and we hope to offer an opportunity to the sports fraternity as well as exposing Uganda’s sports capabilities to the international audience. We want to profile sports in Uganda and make it an export commodity.
The industry is awash with TVs that fail to give their audience enough right local content. What is the situation with you?
UCC (Uganda Communications Commission) has a requirement for every market operator. But beyond that we have put enough local content that is way above UCC requirement. For instance, we shall have premium shows such as talk shows, among other activities.
UCC requires that local content takes up at least 70 per cent of prime time shows but we hope we shall even surpass.
We will not stop at airing events but will go beyond on how different sports personalities have developed.
You have come in a market that seems to be crowded. How ready are you for the competition with other TVs already providing sports such as Dstv and StarTimes?
Ours will be a quality battle. Everything we are doing here is based on research. But above, all we are introducing channels that have never been seen before.
Therefore, we have reasons to believe that we are perfectly on a higher competing ground.
Additionally, we have made sure that we enable you watch TV whenever you want to. For instance, you can watch TV, whenever you are.
The same subscription you have paid for a particular period of time will be accessible on a number of gadgets such as TV, tab or smart phone. But you should not forget that we are coming in with a different preposition.
There are no 24-hour sports TVs in Uganda. We are the first. Therefore, we shall only be breaking and creating our own barriers.
We are also having a lot of innovations such as the TechNet. This is a virtual store that works like Uber. You will be able to get services from such stores at the exact amount we have set without being charged anything above the set prices.
Who do you think will be your immediate beneficiary?
We are a people driven company and we hope to work with a lot of people. However, the ultimate beneficiaries will be local content builders, dealer networks and sports overs, among others.
As a whole, local sports will be the biggest beneficiary because our concept is built around it.
We want to profile all kinds of sports in Uganda and put it out there for the world to see.
We have around 100 employees. We hope to create around 2,000 through direct and indirect employment. Many of our products shall be sold or marketed through dealerships. So we hope to have a number of people employed as a result.
Do you have anything special that leverages your platform from others?
Yes, as I told you we are looking at providing viewers with quality. We have already secured exclusive rights for the Confederations Cup which will be showing next year.
Beyond that we have also secured rights to show the World Cup next year. At least you are aware of the dynamics of last World Cup. Ugandans almost missed watching it because the national broadcaster had no money to buy the rights.
As Kwese, we want to ensure that we bring you the best sports programme on all our platforms.
For instance, it was shameful that many Ugandans would not watch the Uganda Cranes when it qualified to the African Cup of Nations last year.
Therefore, we want to make sure that Ugandans don’t miss out on lifetime events such as World Cup.