Kenya's top media houses back on-air

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

The stalemate between three key media houses and the Kenyan government has come to an end.

After a three week switch off, the Nation Media Group, Standard Group Limited and Royal Media Services will air their content from Thursday through their consortium, Africa Digital Networks (ADN). Nonetheless, viewers will require universal set-top boxes which receive free-to-air signals.

The media houses had raised concerns that the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) had failed to give them adequate time to import their own digital set-top boxes to be distributed through ADN.

In February, the three media houses had their stations forcefully switched off from the analogue system after the Supreme Court of Kenya ruled for digital migration to continue as was earlier planned by the authority.

The director general of the CA, Francis Wangusi had earlier warned that, “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 on them given that they have committed a very serious violation including the withdrawing of their licenses.”

Nonetheless, according to reports, the media houses have written to the regulator requesting that Pay TV service providers seek authorisation to air their content. This is after the media houses in the beginning of the year ran a misleading advertisement, according to the industry regulator, which termed the process as ‘gross misconduct and violation of the law’.

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.

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.

Last year, the CA announced a schedule for the migration process and directed that Nairobi would be switched off by end of 2014, followed by major towns like Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, and Eldoret in February. The rest of the country would ultimately migrate by June 2015.