CAK faults KBC, K24 for returning to analogue, fines three others

By James Ratemo, Nairobi, Kenya

The Communication Authority of Kenya has described as illegal a move by two free-to-air TV stations to revert to analogue broadcasting.

Summoning bosses of KBC and K24 TV stations, who restored their analogue broadcast signals in Nairobi on February 5, 2015, CAK Director-General Francis Wangusi said the duo acted against regulations.

National broadcaster, KBC, and Mediamax’s channel K24, which had switched to digital broadcasting on January 1, 2015, ditched the digital platform citing poor reach of the platform.

The two are now airing their programs in analogue format arguing most Kenyans are yet to purchase set-top-boxes, meaning digital TV reach is still limited.

Just three weeks ago the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK withdrew the temporary authorization granted to the three media houses (under a consortium identified as Africa Digital Network).

The media firms; Standard Media Group (Owner of Kenya Television Network –KTN, and Radio Maisha FM), Royal Media Services (Owner of Citizen TV and horde of radio stations) and Nation Media Group (Owner of NTV, QTV, QFM and Nation FM) are still on the analogue platform awaiting to roll out digital TV infrastructure.

CAK on Friday, gave the three media firms seven days to pay a Sh500,000 fine each to get back the permit that will allow them to carry own digital broadcast signals.

 “The authority’s board of directors has held deliberations and agreed that the authority shall lift the suspension and resume processing of the self-provisioning licence only after the consortium meets the four conditions within seven calendar days from today (February 6, 2015),” CA board chairman Ben Gituku said.

This drama is unravelling barely two months after the country started the switch-over from analogue to digital TV.

By withdrawing the self-provisioning licence, CAK was responding to a squabble between the media firms and two pay TV companies which came out through a TV infomercial.

“The said advertisement alleged that Startimes and GOtv were illegally carrying their content thereby infringing on copyright and neighbouring" rights.

CAK has a three-phase timetable to migrate the country's citizens to digital broadcasting before the June 2015 deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union .

The first phase which began in December 2014 covered Nairobi and its environs.

The second phase started on February 2, 2015 and targets Eldoret, Kisumu Kisii, Nakuru, Kakamega Mombasa and Malindi. The last phase, which will be implemented on March 30, 2015 and will cover the remaining smaller towns.

CAK Director General Francis Wangusi said the phases approach is to ensure smooth transition to digital broadcasting since it will give consumers time to acquire set-top- boxes.

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