A Kenyan investor has bought out Ebru TV in a secret deal that has edged out the Turkish original owners. The television station has been struggling to find its footing in the highly competitive broadcast industry in Kenya and a change of ownership appears to have given it a new lease of life.
The man now in control of Ebru TV is one Ali Jamah, a little known Kenyan tycoon from the Somali community. Details of the financial transactions have been kept under wraps but insiders say it runs into hundreds of millions as Mr Jamah acquired controlling stake.
Former Ebru TV CEO Nadir Kilic has since been replaced by a fellow Turkish, while the operations manager is Jamah’s wife, Anab Mohammed, who quit her job at the United States International University (USIU) to run the broadcast house.
Selling stake to strategic local partners was part of Ebru TV’s strategy to remain in business by accessing funds for operations, including hiring and retaining talented presenters and reporters as well as modern studio equipment. The new owners have overhauled management and the newsroom leadership. Among the beneficiaries is Victoria Amunga, who was promoted from anchor to head of news.
Five local buyers had shown interest in buying the television station in March last year as the Lavington-based broadcaster faced financial difficulties that seemed to affect the entire industry.
The television station, started about six years ago in Kenya, started experiencing problems in 2016 after funding taps were turned off by its the parent company in Turkey. The owner of the parent fled the country after the coup into exile.
Ebru Kenya’s parent company Samanyolu closed operations after the coup. Samanyolu TV is an international TV station with headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey, with successful operations in the US.
On 19 July 2016, its license was revoked and the channel closed by the Radio and Television Supreme Council of Turkey due to alleged links with the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt. A total of 131 media organisations were shut following the July 15 failed coup.
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Its management, though, say Ebru has its roots in the United States. When it started, Ebru was majority-owned subsidiary of Samanyolu Broadcasting Company (SBC), the international media corporation with headquarters in the United States and operations in Germany, Turkey, and Azerbaijan. But it has since become an independent entity from Samanyolu.