Setback for migration as KBC, K24 back to analogue

By James Ratemo, Nairobi, Kenya

The drama that has bedeviled Kenya’s Digital broadcasting journey is far from over. Two free-to-air stations have ditched digital platform citing poor reach of the platform.

National broadcaster, KBC, and Mediamax’s channel K24 are now airing their programs in analogue format saying most Kenyans are yet to purchase set-top-boxes meaning digital TV reach is still limited.

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

Three other 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.

KBC and K24 therefore felt they were at a disadvantage compared to NTV, KTN, and Citizen TV who got a court order to remain analogue till they establish a working digital tV infrastructure including purchase of set-top-boxes to distribute to viewers.

Just two weeks ago the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) accused three local media firms of intent to disrupt the journey to Digital broadcasting.

The Authority withdrew the temporary authorization granted to the three media houses (under a consortium identified as Africa Digital Network).

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 is yet to unhinge the stalemate as the trio moved to court.

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

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

The second phase startred 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.

Statistics however show that close to 60 per cent of Kenyans are yet to purchase the gadgets that make analogue TV sets receive digital signals.

More than 1.5 million set top boxes have been purchased since migration in Kenya began. 

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