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Kenyan broadcasters bemoan digital migration deadline

Kenya , 01 Dec 2014

Kenyan broadcasters bemoan digital migration deadline

The government has officially announced that on December 31st all analogue broadcasting systems will be switched off in Nairobi and its environs. This is a part of phase one of the migration calendar.

The Kenyan broadcasters (Nation Media Group, Standard Media Group and Royal Media Group) have also been granted a single digital distributor licence to enable them broadcast their own digital signals. But time might be the new enemy.

The broadcasters are now finding it an upward battle to roll out their network in a month, while their counterparts, Startimes' Pan African Network Group (Pang) and Signet have had three years to establish themselves.

The three media houses are now asking for an extension of about four months.

"We want to be able to carry our own content, through our own set top boxes and through our own infrastructure. Which means we need to invest in set top boxes, have them manufactured, airlifted to Kenya and distributed. We also need to invest in transmitters. Honestly, unless we do a miracle, it is not possible within 30 days," Farida Karoney, chief operating officer at Royal Media Group said during a media meet-up with the Communications Authority of Kenya.

The media groups also brought to the fore, the spectrum distribution that has given Startimes 120 digital signals out of the 190, which represents 63 percent of the frequencies. The local stations have only been allocated 5 percent of the signals. This is seen as unfair competition.

"Indeed we fault you [CAK] and the government on what has happened in this digital frequency distribution exercise. Sixty-three percent to Pang, a company from China, in a country [Kenya] that has the highest media investments in Africa? You can't explain this with a clear conscience. This is wrong!" Linus Kaikai managing editor at Nation Television (NTV) said.

The local media houses will be pushing for more dialogue with the Communication Authority to find out ways of having a smooth transition.

The government has said that there are 1 million set top boxes in the market to comfortably supply households which have not yet migrated.

Kenya has lagged behind its East African partners as the global deadline of June 17, 2015 draws closer.

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