CAK forces analogue shutdown

By James Ratemo, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenyans in major towns who are yet to purchase set-top-boxes could not watch TV starting Saturday afternoon.

This follows the forceful shut down of the analogue signals of NTV, QTV,Citizen TV and KTN by the Communication Authority of Kenya.

This comes hours after the media firms defied CAK order to migrate to digital platform by last midnight.

CAK gave the order following a ruling by Kenya's Supreme Court that reinstated CAK's analogue TV shutdown timetable.

According to the schedule, all media firms were to shutdown analogue TV signals in Nairobi on December 31, 2014. But the three media firms: Nation Media Group (owner of NTV and QTV), Royal Media Services (owner of Citizen TV) and Standard Media Group (owner of KTN) contested the order in court.

The court battle has been fierce, at one point taking a different dimension, when last month CAK decided to withdraw a self-provisioning licence it had granted to the three media firms.

The withdrawal was due to a controversial advert by the three firms against pay TV firms Startimes and Gotv who have been carrying signals of the free-to-air channels.

In Thursday's ruling the Supreme Court had also ordered CAK to give back the suspended licence to the three media firms and kicked out all pending cases on Digital migration.

Apparently CAK has taken advantage of the ruling to punish the media firms and force them to migrate despite their protest.

In a statement from the three media firms, operating under African Digital Network, CAK has not given them enough them to acquire neccesary equipment for digital broadcasting.

The battle is likely to go a notch higher as Kenyan viewers are plunged into TV darkness.

The three media firms control 90 per cent of Kenya's TV market.

CAK intends to shut analogue broadcasting across all parts of Kenya by end of March this year ahead of the International Telecommunications Union’s global deadline of end of June this year.

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