Supreme Court rules on digital signal distribution

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya’s Supreme Court has set aside a ruling by the Appeal Court on digital TV and ordered the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) to reopen licensing of digital signal distribution for 90 days.

The Supreme Court also wants CAK and three local media houses, Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and Standard Media Group, to agree on a new timeline on the migration from analogue to digital television broadcast.

This means Kenyans will wait for a little longer before knowing the new date for the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga directed the parties to dialogue and reach at an amicable new date for transition within 30 days.

With the ruling, there is hope that the three media houses will be given a signal distribution license they have been fighting for.

The Supreme Court bench on the matter consisted of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, his deputy Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal, Judges Jackton Ojwang, Smokin Wanjala, Philip Tunoi, Njoki Ndung’u and Mohammed Ibrahim.

The petition, was filed at the High Court in October last year by the Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and Standard Media Group

The country had initially planned to switch off analogue at the beginning of 2012, but logistical challenges and inadequate distribution of digital converters saw the process delayed.

Plans to effect the switch-off again on December 31 2012 were thwarted when Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) a lobby group, went to court to stop the process.

Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) argued that Kenyan consumers were not ready for the switch-off owing to the high cost of set-top-boxes (converters that enable analogue TV sets receive digital signals.)

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