NTA-StarTimes Open to Forensic Audit, Says Management

StarTimes Nigeria Public Relations Manager, Lazarus Ibeabuchi

*Says no N200bn is missing

The management of NTA-Star TV Network Ltd, a joint venture between the Nigerian Television Authority and the StarTimes Group, has welcomed the forensic audit on its finances and operations, as requested by the Senate’s Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning.

A statement by StarTimes PR Manager, Lazarus Ibeabuchi, said the company was open to a proper investigation into its operations and financials.

It added that its believes the company is run in a prudent, responsible and sustainable manner.

The statement read: “We also want to clarify that no revenue is missing as gross earnings have been repeatedly ploughed back into cost of production to cover cost of components, namely transmitters, equipment, generating sets and satellite; content acquisition; as well as operating costs, which include salaries and other running costs, incurred within our ten years of operation.

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

It said the loss in its operations over the years was as a result of the fact that the huge upfront investment was in US dollars, and the long-term cost recovery had met brick-walls with successive years of naira depreciation.

The management also noted that Pay-TV business was capital intensive and had a long gestation period, adding that “more than 80 per cent of inputs into our operations are dollar-denominated.”

It explained that the naira fluctuations hadn’t been favourable to the business, making it more and more difficult to meet dollar-denominated obligations.

It said: “We however regret the outcome of the Senate hearing, especially as it amounts to a media trial without proper due diligence.

“To this end, we are open to a proper investigation into our operations and financials, especially as we believe the company is run in a prudent, responsible and sustainable manner.

“With the support and trust of the public and business partners, StarTimes operating environment is fast improving, performance is rising, and our losses have been decreasing.

“We believe that as a going concern, we will eventually achieve profitability shortly and make greater contributions to society.”