Kenya Switches To Digital From Boxing Day



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The much
anticipated switch from analogue to digital TV transmission will finally be
effected from midnight on Boxing Day, as Kenya moves towards meeting its
international obligation.

According to TVC
NEWS Kenyan correspondent Mary Theru reports that it has not however been a
smooth transition with three major media houses pushing for its postponement
several times and eventually unsuccessfully moving to court to block it.


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And on Tuesday,
Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i came
guns blazing announcing that the migration would be effected in two days’ time.
Matiang’i said that
those living in Nairobi, Kiambu, Embu, Machakos, Kajiado, Kerugoya, Kitengela,
Ngong, Ong’ata Rongai, Isinya, Athi River, Thika, Kigumo, Githunguri and Makuyu
would all be switched off if they had not yet equipped themselves with the
required set boxes.
“The rest of the
country is not affected by this switch off hence consumers should continue
receiving analogue TV signals until such time they shall be switched off. The rest of the migration programme remains the
same,” he said.
He further urged
all existing analogue TV broadcasters to make the necessary arrangements and
observe the deadline.
Matiang’i also
assured Kenyans that there were enough set-top boxes in the country and that
more would be brought in to meet any arising demand.
He urged Kenyans
not to be hoodwinked into believing that there would be a shortage of the
digital gadgets.
“Out of about 1.5
million TVs within the radius of our first switch off phase, nearly 500,000 are
already on the digital migration platform
because they have subscribed to either DSTV or GOtv,” he explained.
“That leaves us
with about a million and of those about 700,000 have actually bought the
boxes.”
Matiang’i at the
same time hit out at the Nation Media Group, the Royal Media Services Group and
the Standard Group over their intentional ‘switch off’ after they lost their
Court petition.
He said that they
had abused the broadcasting rules that they promised to adhere to when they
were given their operating licenses saying that there would be consequences.
Reliable sources
indicate that the media houses have already received letters from the
Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) demanding an explanation. They will
also face hefty fines as a result.
“The conditions are
so clear and they were supposed to write to CCK because they were not supposed
to be off air for up to three hours without informing them. And they know that,” he explained.
He further accused
the TV stations of crying foul because they had lost the bid to be the digital
signal distributors.
Matiang’i noted
that they had been fuelling lies about selling their content to the Chinese
firm that won the signal tender while at the same time claiming that Kenyans would have to part with a monthly subscription fee
of Sh500 as a result of the move.


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“What they had been
doing is engaging in a propaganda campaign.
Responsible media
houses do not lie to the people. Purchasing a set-top box is a one off
expenditure. There is no monthly charge that you are supposed to pay,” he
maintained.
And while the three
TV houses had been complaining that consumers were not duly informed of the
migration process, Matiang’i confirmed that they refused to run consumer
awareness adverts about it.
“On one hand they
would say that there is a low level of consumer awareness but they refused to
take adverts that we were paying for. It is like killing your mother and crying for forgiveness because you are an
orphan,” he retorted.
Matiang’i added
that the Digital Transition Committee had held 75 meetings over the migration
and the media houses had representatives sitting in the committee.
According to the
government, when an August date for the switch was proposed, the three TV
stations proposed for a December date but then when the December date finally
caught up, they started complaining again.


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