Kenya gets more Pay TV
By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya
Chinese broadcaster StarTimes Media is expanding its Pay TV beyond Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
The firm launched the pay TV signal in Kenya’s lake side city, Kisumu, two weeks after another firm, GO TV, shifted the battle for subscribers in the digital broadcasting market from Nairobi.
GO TV is a joint venture by MultiChoice and state broadcaster Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
The move by the pay TV providers rides on the back of Kenya’s rush to beat its self-imposed digital migration deadline of December 2012.
The International Telecommunication Union had set June 2015 as the cut-off date for analogue broadcasting globally and African governments are battling to meet the deadline.
StarTimes Media CEO Leo Lee said Kenya was actively engaging in measures to shift from analogue to digital television platform and his company shall be playing a significant role in ensuring Kenyans enjoy the benefits of the switch.
“We intend to invest USD75 million by the year 2015 which will not only guarantee world class television service in Kenya but also provide employment to over 1,000 Kenyans,” said Leo Lee.
One of the incentives that the Kenya government has provided to make the transition more seamless was to waive the excise duty on DVBT-2 gadgets commonly referred to as set-top-boxes. The digital gadgets enable analogue TV sets access digital broadcasting signals meaning consumers with analogue TV sets need not buy digital sets to access digital broadcasting signals.
“The DVBT-2 signal is now available in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. By December it will be available in all parts of Kenya that have analogue signal. That will be about 80% of the population covered,” said Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary, Dr Bitange Ndemo.
The pay television providers, StarTimes and GOtv, are selling their digital terrestrial set-top boxes at Sh2,999 and Sh3,500 respectively, which is still expensive to majority of Kenyans.
According to Ndemo, the cost of set-top-boxes range from as little as USD5 for basic converter to USD100 for a more advanced converter but business people have not been importing the basic converters.
“There are proposals that the Government should actually buy this for consumers just like most countries have done. The trouble will be how to identify who to buy for,” said Dr Ndemo.
StarTimes Media will be providing its service at an introductory price of sh2, 999 for a plug and play decoder and has various packages ranging from Ksh500 to Ksh3,000 per month.