Petition against Digital Migration dismissed

Kenya’s CCK reports that the Kenyan High Court has dismissed a petition challenging the digital migration process.

In his ruling, Justice David Majanja found no reasonable ground to halt the switch off as the petitioners had failed to convince the court that the process was unconstitutional.

‘‘The petitioners have not established a violation of the Constitution or the law to enable the Court correct the course of digital migration…I find no reason to forestall digital migration, there will be no convenient date for everyone,” ruled the judge.

Justice Majanja ruled that the migration date was arrived at by consensus and the petitioners were party to the agreement. The Nation Media Group, The Standard Group and the Royal Media services had also wanted the process put on hold as they would suffer irreparable losses as a result of it.

‘‘The petitioners actively participated in the formulation and implementation of the digital migration policy. They were represented on the Migration Taskforce which developed the policy agenda for digital migration and the DTC which was the implementing body,’’ read the ruling.

The petitioners had also indicated in their submissions that by virtue of their massive investments, they were entitled to a Digital Signal Distribution Licence, a prayer that the judge rejected.

‘‘Nothing in the Constitution or law entitles the petitioners, as established media houses, to Broadcast Signal Distribution (BSD) licences as of right. Licensing is a process that is subject to certain conditions governed by the relevant statutory framework underpinned by the Constitution…Such licences are, in accordance with the law, to be obtained in an open, transparent, competitive and non-discriminative manner,’’ he ruled.

The judge also dismissed an application by the petitioner’s lawyer Senior Counsel Paul Muite, who sought a 30 day extension of the analogue switch off.

The Digital Television Committee (DTC) had earlier set the date for the switch off in Nairobi on December 13th this year, followed by other major towns in March next year and the final switch in all parts of the country be finalised in June 2014.

The High Court had granted a stay on the planned switch off after the petitioners went to court to challenge the process.

The media houses had also wanted their case to be heard by a three-judge bench, a prayer that was equally rejected by the judge.

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