By Macharia Kamau
Local broadcasters operating free to air television stations want the Ministry of Information and Communication to involve them in the process of migration from analogue to digital broadcasting platforms.
The broadcasters — through their lobby Media Owners Association — have threatened to pull out content from the current digital broadcast distribution platforms should the ministry fail to address their concerns.
Currently Signet — a subsidiary of Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) — and Pan Africa Network Group (Pang) have the licenses to operate the digital signal distribution platforms. And if local broadcasters pull down their content, the migration process would be significantly undermined.
MOA wants the Government to issue a consortium of free to air broadcasters with the third licence or involve them in the digital signal distribution through the two firms that have been licensed.
Mr Kiprono Kittony, the chairman of the association, said the media owners had sorted out differences among them that the Government has used to deny them the licence.
“The local media owners have registered a special purpose vehicle and are ready to participate as the third licensee. We are still appealing to the Government to expedite the process to enable local media owners participate in the migration to digital process,” he said.
“It is within the powers of the Government to come up with a solution that will see local broadcasters effectively participate — either through the two licensees or issue a licence to the special purpose vehicle formed by the broadcasters.”
Media owners had protested the awarding of the second licence to Pang, saying the Communication Commission of Kenya had failed to take certain factors into consideration before issuing the same.
They had argued that their exclusion would hurt their businesses, which are heavily invested in broadcasting equipment, some of which could be used in the new digital broadcast model. They also noted that it would lock local players out of the new model of delivery of their content.
Kittony was speaking yesterday at a CCK workshop on the migration from analogue to digital process. He added that the CCK should consider the current state of the economy and the upcoming elections before deciding on a new date for switching off the analogue signals.
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