The woes in Kenya’s digital migration process - CNBC Africa

The woes in Kenya’s digital migration process

East Africa

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

Three key Kenyan media houses face stiff penalties for switching off their stations from the digital platform. PHOTOS: Tech Central/Artis Ac

The Royal Media Services, the Standard Media Services and the Nation Media Services had their stations forcefully switched off from the analogue system on Saturday by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA). This is after the Supreme Court of Kenya on Friday allowed digital migration to continue as was earlier planned by the authority.

According to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Fred Matiangi, the move by the three media houses to switch off their signals is in blatant breach of directives from the Supreme Court.

(READ MORE: Kenya's digital TV upgrade)

“We are not going back on digital migration. They had better get that loud and clear. We are not going back, so if these theatrics are intended to intimidate us or manipulate government, they had better think again,” a stern Matiangi said during a press briefing.

Director General of CA, Francis Wangusi said, “They will not come back on the digital platform until they have met certain conditions that the regulator is going to give them. They switched themselves off, let them remain off but we are going to slap some penalties to them given that they have done a very serious violation even including withdrawing of their licenses.”

In January, the regulator withdrew the temporary authorisation granted to the three media houses to purchase set up boxes. The authority cited that the media houses were in ‘gross misconduct and violation of the law’ for running a misleading advertisement.

The date to the switch off has been postponed on several occasions due to a legal suit by the three media houses. Nonetheless, the government maintains that they will not be deterred in this process.

“In addition to switching themselves off from the digital platform each from GOtv, from Zuku, from DSTV, from Signet and Pang, the three media houses opted to screen inaccurate and misleading messages in a deliberate effort to incite the public and portray the regulator in negative and bad light,” Matiangi said.

On the other hand, the media houses are complaining that the authority has failed to give them adequate time to import their own digital set top boxes to be distributed through their consortium Africa Digital Network (ADN).

“The forceful shutdown of analogue broadcasting was clearly calculated to compel the three media houses to avail their signal for distribution by the government owned SIGNET and Chinese owned Pan Africa Group PANG for distribution despite,” ADN said in a statement.

Kenya has less than three months before the 17 June 2015 global digital migration deadline. The migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting was a decision made in 2006 during the Regional Radio Conference in Geneva.

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