NTA-StarTimes Declares N200bn not Missing, Ready for Forensic Audit

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By Bennett Oghifo

The management of NTA-Star TV Network Ltd., a joint venture between the Nigerian Television Authority and the StarTimes Group, has said no money is missing from its coffers, contrary to claims by the Senate’s Joint Committee on Finance and National Planning.

A statement signed by the PR Manager, StarTimes Nigeria, Lazarus Ibeabuchi said revenue generated by the company was used as operational cost, purchasing equipment and payment of salaries, adding that it was open to forensic audit of its finances and operations, as requested by the Senate Committee.

The statement said, “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 10 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).

“The loss in our operations over the years is as a result of the fact that our huge upfront investment is in U.S. 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 per cent 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.

“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.”