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The company that holds the World Cup broadcasting rights for sub-Saharan Africa says it has suffered a series of cyber-attacks since the tournament began.
Officials at New World TV, a relatively new pan-African audio-visual group in Togo, confirmed it had also been attacked before the finals kicked off in Qatar on 20 November.
According to Gilles Bocco, the communication manager at New World TV, one of its servers supplying decoders was attacked.
“The technicians recorded seven attacks from different sources on Monday 21 November,” explained Augustin Amega, a member of the company’s communication.
“There were viral attacks that reached one of the servers.”
New World TV gave no further details about the attacks’ perpetrators but Bocco said their identities will be known “very soon”.
The group has pledged to make all efforts to meet its commitment towards supporters across the continent watching their favourite teams at the World Cup.
“This is not the time to talk about the perpetrators of these attacks, as our main focus now is how to meet this challenge by allowing African football fans to fully enjoy all the matches of this competition,” Bocco told a local Togolese radio station.
“People will get to know where these attacks came from very soon.”
Togolese authorities are trying to help New World TV combat the attacks.
“We have learned that New World TV is under attack, so our Cyber Defence Africa operational unit has contacted the media group to see how best we can help them,” said Commander Gwaliba Gbota, director general of Togo’s national cyber-security agency.
Gbota also claimed the hacking attacks are signs of criminal acts, aimed at sabotaging efforts by New World TV to provide affordable services while potentially discouraging its subscribers across the continent.
“We believe the prowess of the group in obtaining the rights to broadcast all the World Cup matches across sub-Saharan African countries does not please everyone,” he said.
“This is because there are other people who would have liked to get these broadcasting rights. I think these attacks come within the logic of perhaps sabotaging their systems in order to discourage subscribers, but we will do everything we can to help.”
He added that discussions are under way to see how his agency can help New World TV “strengthen their broadcasting systems and fight against these attacks”.
Who are New World TV?
The rise of New World TV has sparked a lot of curiosity across the African continent and beyond.
According to media reports, the broadcasting rights of the Qatar 2022 World Cup are believed to have cost the company around 15 million euros ($15.8m).
In addition, it has also acquired the broadcasting rights of the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup and, for the French-speaking regions, both the 2024 and 2028 European Championships.
Many linked the emergence of the Lome-based group to actions by Togo President Faure Gnassingbe himself, but New World TV officials recently said that shares in the private limited company are mostly held by members of the Togolese diaspora.
New World TV’s emergence came at the expense of many established European media groups which have held the region’s World Cup broadcasting rights in recent years.
In contrast to previous tournaments, New World TV – which offered more affordable subscriptions than its rivals – is broadcasting in a number of local African dialects, including Lingala, Wolof and Ewe.
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