In March 2016, MultiChoice Ghana operators of DStv and agents of SuperSport International, dragged Champion TV (the defendant) to court for infringing on its copyrights by unlawfully showing the English Premier League (EPL) without authority.
According to MultiChoice Ghana’s statement of claim, SuperSport was granted exclusive rights by the English Premier League, through a competitive bidding process to broadcast the football matches of the EPL for the 2015/2016 football season within Sub Saharan Africa including Ghana.
Champion TV’s continuous violation of their content rights was having an extremely adverse impact on their business, as their unlawful broadcasts were widely patronised for free in Ghana and beyond and widely advertised online.
On 26th July 2016, the court adopted the terms of settlement signed by the parties as the judgment of the court and ordered the parties to abide by the terms of the consent judgment.
Under clause 1 of the agreement, Champion TV undertook to cease and desist from further breach of MultiChoice Ghana’s channels or exclusive content rights by the broadcasting and or transmission of channels or exclusive content including the EPL matches.
However, the defendant proceeded to infringe on the consent judgment regarding exclusive content rights of the plaintiff by setting up a new television channel on its Champion TV decoder under the trade name, Top TV 2, which was used to broadcast the 2016/17 season of the EPL.
In a motion to enforce the terms of settlement, lawyers for MultiChoice Ghana, T. Forson & Co said, “the actions of the defendants were indicative of a firm resolve to infringe on the exclusive television content rights of the plaintiff to advance the defendant’s own commercial interest at the expense of the plaintiff.” In accordance with clause 4 of the terms of settlement, the court upon granting the application for enforcement of the terms of settlement ordered Champion TV to pay the prescribed punitive damages of US$40,000 (Ghc176,000) for the breach.
General Manager of MultiChoice Ghana, Cecil Sunkwa-Mills said the court ruling is a landmark victory for the fight against copyrights infringement in TV broadcasting in Ghana. He added “MultiChoice Ghana will not hesitate to use lawful means to protect content we have duly secured territorial broadcast rights for and urged media houses to properly secure broadcast rights for all content i.e. movies, music, concerts, documentaries, sports, etc.”