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Native name
IndustryInformation and communications technology
FounderPang Xinxing
Number of employees

StarTimes is a Chinese electronics and media company with strong presence in Africa.

StarTimes offers digital terrestrial television and satellite television services to consumers. StarTimes also provides digital television technologies to countries and television broadcasting industries which are switching from analog to digital television. StarTimes is a leading digital TV-operator across Sub-Saharan Africa.[1] StarTimes' arrival on African market disrupted traditional model of TV industry by making Pay TV affordable to every family and not only to the upper class.[2] As of September 2018, StarTimes operates in 30 countries and serves 20 million users.[3]


StarTimes Office in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

StarTimes Group was founded in 1988 by Chinese engineer Pang Xinxing.[4] He is a graduate of Northeastern University (China), and the current chairman of StarTimes.

In 2002, StarTimes began to expand its business to Africa, and has since been working closely with African governments to jointly promote digitization.

In 2007, StarTimes received the first digital TV operator license issued by Rwanda.[4] Since, StarTimes has established subsidiaries in 30 African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, Madagascar, and the Republic of Central Africa.

In 2009, StarTimes and the Tanzania Public Service Broadcaster formed a joint venture to roll out Digital Migration.[5] On June 17, 2015, Tanzania's government gave StarTimes a certificate of appreciation “For invaluable contribution to the success of migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting”.[6]

In February 2016, StarTimes was awarded a DTH License in Ivory Coast.[7] Operation began in October 2016.[8]

On November 23, 2016, StarTimes was one of the three companies selected by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to establish and operate DTH distribution services in Pakistan for a term of 15 years.[9]

On September 2, 2017, the government of Chad and StarTimes signed an agreement on digital migration. After a lengthy process, StarTimes was chosen to build a Digital Terrestrial Television network, which will include digitization of national infrastructures, from television broadcast to terminal reception.[10]

In 2018, StarTimes began to implement “Access to satellite TV for 10,000 African villages”, a China-Africa cooperation project aimed at give African rural areas access to information and knowledge.[3]

In June 2018, StarTimes pioneered video streaming service (OTT) in Africa by officially launching a mobile app giving access to dozens of channels.[11]

African Digital TV Development Seminar[edit]

In 2011, StarTimes hosted the First African Digital TV Development Seminar. The seminar, which has been held for seven consecutive years, is a platform for African countries to discuss how to realize the digital migration in Africa.

At the forum held in May 2017, over 400 delegates from 46 African and Asian countries were present at the seminar, including more than 30 ministers of information and communication from African countries, like Nigeria, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Zambia, DR Congo and Ethiopia.[12]

The 8th edition of the Seminar held in Beijing in June 2018 recorded a landmark in attendance with over 400 delegates, dignitaries, heads of broadcasting corporations and guests from 48 African and Asian countries, with a focus on reviewing trends, developments and cooperation towards digitalizing broadcasting in Africa, as well as OTT industry.[13]

Sports broadcasting[edit]

Sport, and especially football, are StarTimes' content priority. For this reason, StarTimes appointed world football legend Nwankwo Kanu as its brand ambassador for Africa.[14]

In 2015, StarTimes signed an exclusive broadcasting contract with the Bundesliga for five successive years in all Sub-Saharan countries. StarTimes became Bundesliga's partner in Africa.[15] This resulted in StarTimes and DFL Deutsche Fussball Liga organizing StarTimes-Bundesliga Legends Tour where Bundesliga icons visit African countries "to interact with African football fans and to promote the German football league as well as its official broadcaster in Sub-Saharan Africa, StarTimes". In December 2015, two of Africa's most talented former players, Jay-Jay Okocha and Sunday Oliseh, visited Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.[16]

In 2015, StarTimes got the wide rights to televise French Ligue 1 and Italian Serie A for all Sub-Saharan countries.[17]

In July 2015, StarTimes signed an exclusive broadcasting contract for the International Champions Cup (ICC) for the duration of five years.[18]

In June 2016, StarTimes also signed an exclusive broadcasting contract with the Chinese Super League for three successive years in Sub-Saharan Africa.[19]

In November 2016, StarTimes Group signed a ground-breaking media agreement with Ghana Football Association, vowing to promote the Ghana Premier League in Sub-Saharan Africa and the infrastructural development of the game in the West African country during the coming decade.[20]

In April 2017, StarTimes secured media rights for 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, as well as all the other 2017-2018 FIFA events in all 42 territories of Sub-Saharan Africa (except for the World Cup 2018 and the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 in South Africa).[21] StarTimes also signed a partnership with Ivoirian football club ASEC Mimosas.[22]

On July 19, 2017, StarTimes acquired exclusive media rights in Sub-Saharan Africa for FIBA's national team competitions during the period 2017-2021, including the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.[23]

On August 9, 2018 StarTimes and Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) announced that StarTimes acquired both the naming and broadcast rights of the Uganda Premier League and FUFA Big League for a 10 years period.[24]

In September 2018, StarTimes launched live telecast of UEFA Europa League. StarTimes will broadcast UEFA Europa League in all Sub-Saharan Africa except South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. StarTimes has been awarded exclusive rights for English, Portuguese and local languages in English and Portuguese speaking areas until 2021.[25]

In November 2018, StarTimes acquired exclusive media rights to Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana in Sub-Saharan Africa through 2020/2021 season.[26]

Corporate social responsibility[edit]

Ebola epidemic[edit]

During Ebola crisis in 2014, StarTimes launched several operations in Guinea and Nigeria to raise awareness among local population. In Guinea, StarTimes made a video, which was broadcast on national television, about Ebola Virus and precautionary measures to take, and distributed sanitation materials to the local communities.[27][28] In Nigeria, StarTimes produced different educational materials and distributed gloves and masks, as well as put this Ebola prevention info on its website and Facebook account.[29]

StarTimes-UNAIDS cooperation[edit]

On May 12, 2017, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, and StarTimes signed a memorandum of cooperation. This agreement officialized a cooperation which started a year before “to reduce the impact of HIV across Africa by disseminating messages to the general public to increase awareness of HIV and UNAIDS’ work and reduce stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and populations affected by HIV”. The first concrete action of this cooperation was realized for the World AIDS Day on December 1, 2016, StarTimes broadcast UNAIDS HIV prevention videos across their African networks in English and French from World AIDS Day until the end of the year.[30][31]

Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages[edit]

In 2017, StarTimes Group was tasked to carry out the Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages' project under the guide of China and African governments.[32]

This project, announced by Chinese president Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, is a China-Africa Cooperation project which will give access to satellite television to 10,112 villages of 25 African countries.[33]

By enabling villages to utilize satellite television, the project aims to provide the rural population a window to the outside world. Villagers will have access to information and knowledge that can help them alleviate poverty. This shall also reduce digital divide and promote a balanced development of African countries.

SOS Children's Villages International[edit]

On May 14, 2018 in Nairobi (Kenya), StarTimes and SOS Children's Villages International signed a Memorandum of Understanding (‘MOU’) that will see the two organizations partner towards supporting vulnerable families and children, with an emphasis on empowering youth in light of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (‘SDGs’).[34]

The MOU will see StarTimes support SOS Children's Villages programmes in over ten African countries specifically in broadening local learning opportunities and extending diverse experiences to young people from SOS Children's Villages programmes.


Digital TV Set[edit]

In 2016, StarTimes launched a digital TV set supporting signal inputs of both terrestrial TV (DTT) and satellite TV (DTH) without a decoder. The TV set is available in HD (24 & 32 inches) and Full HD (40, 42, 43 & 55 inches).[35] As Africa is going through digital television migration, StarTimes digital TV set was designed to help families to complete the last step of the transition by giving them an "all-in-one" device to fully enjoy benefits of digital television.


StarTimes developed 2-in-1 combo decoders or Dual Mode Decoders, which can support both terrestrial TV (DTT) service and satellite TV (DTH) service.[36]

Projector TV & Solar System[edit]

StarTimes Projector TV can project a more than 120-inch picture screen onto a wall. It uses DLP technology and LED light source with high brightness and low power. External devices like DVD players, decoders, as well as computers can be connected.[37]

StarTimes Solar TV System is a low-power TV Projector, which can receive the digital TV directly from satellites, and works with only a 50W solar power battery. It provides five to six hours' TV playback at night. A newer version called S2 incorporates built-in games, a music player and the possibility to install applications.


Startimes' platform proposes over 480 channels and broadcasts in nearly ten languages including Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba, English and French among others.[38] StarTimes also owns and operate 42 channels[3]

Dubbing center[edit]

StarTimes established its translation and dubbing center in 2011. This center, which has 10,000 hours’ output capacity, dubs in eight languages: Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Swahili, Hausa, Yoruba and Luganda.

In 2016, StarTimes held a Swahili dubbing competition, Star TV Drama Dubbing Contest, in Tanzania. Winners were offered jobs in StarTimes' Beijing dubbing center.[39] Later, StarTimes held similar contest in Mozambique (Portuguese), South Africa (Zulu), Nigeria (Hausa) and Côte d'Ivoire (French).[40]

Customer service[edit]

StarTimes customer service is based on two components : call centers and door-to-door service. Call centers are available 24 hours a day to offer after-sales services to customers. These services are supported by a door-to-door service of StarTimes staff going directly to customers' home.

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Alleged indirect involvement in China's debt-trap diplomacy[edit]

On October 8, 2018, British newspaper Financial Times reported increase in Zambia's monthly television levy that funds the country's state broadcaster ZNBC, allegedly resulted by a joint venture between StarTimes and ZNBC. The two companies established a joint venture named TopStar (StarTimes owns 60% of the joint venture's stake) to operate multichannel television services in the country, and it was backed by the Export–Import Bank of China. ZNBC borrowed USD 273 million from the Exim Bank, but it could not repay the debt, and it was alleged that the broadcaster increased the monthly levy to clear their debt.[41] The Financial Times have also reported about other practices related to China's so-called debt-trap diplomacy, and the Chinese Embassy in the UK have since issued counterclaims.[42]

See also[edit]

  • StarSat: StarTimes owns 20% of stakes of the South African satellite television provider.


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  2. ^ "GoTV, StarTimes in Battle for Consumer Loyalty". Ghana MMA. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
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  4. ^ a b "Rwanda's ICT Highlights in 2014". Rwanda News Agency. 3 January 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
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  15. ^ "STARTIMES CONFIRMS BUNDESLIGA DEAL". Sport Industry Group. 10 June 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
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  18. ^ "StarTimes to broadcast International Champions Cup LIVE and Exclusively". Goal. 22 July 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
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  22. ^ "StarTimes Côte d'Ivoire et l'ASEC Mimosas se sont dit OUI". 21 April 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
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  26. ^ "StarTimes secures exclusive rights for Coppa Italia". Ghana Soccernet. 17 November 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  27. ^ "Lutte contre l'épidémie Ebola : La société Star times offre des désinfectants à deux mosquées de Conakry". Guinée Matin. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  28. ^ Xinhua (26 November 2014). "Guinée : une société chinoise de distribution d'images sensibilise contre Ebola". FOCAC. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  29. ^ The Guardian Nigeria (25 August 2014). "Nigeria: Ebola... It's CSR Time for Startimes". All Africa. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  30. ^ Akpunonu, Stanley (1 June 2017). "StarTimes, UNAIDS partner to help Africa end AIDS epidemic by 2030". The Guardian Nigeria. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  31. ^ "UNAIDS, StarTimes Partner to Promote HIV/AIDS Prevention". This Day. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  32. ^ Mo, Yelin (24 January 2018). "China Woos Guinea with Satellite-TV Deal". Caixin. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  33. ^ "President Xi Jinping Delivers Speech at FOCAC Summit: Full Text". China Radio International. 5 December 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
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  36. ^ Okonji, Emma (11 August 2016). "StarTimes Redefines Pay TV with 2-in-1 Combo Decoder". This Day. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
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  38. ^ Ogunsina, Ogunsina (22 May 2017). "StarTimes Works With Africa Towards Digitalisation". Leadership. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  39. ^ Zhang, Xingjian (24 May 2017). "Chinese TV dramas bring world closer". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  40. ^ "Compétition de doublage StarTimes: Après Bouaké, Cap sur Abidjan". Vibe Radio (in French). 4 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  41. ^ Cotterill, Joseph; Pilling, David; Zhang, Archie (October 8, 2018). "TV tax stirs Zambian fears over Chinese 'debt-trap' diplomacy". Financial Times. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  42. ^ "Embassy Spokesperson's letter to Financial Times on its unjustified comments of "debt-trap" diplomacy" (Press release). London: Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2018.

External links[edit]