Media owners want digital migration moved to June 2015

Kenya: Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) together with media owners have asked the Supreme Court to extend digital migration date to June next year when the whole world is expected to have moved from analogue to digital television broadcasting.

Lawyer Henry Kurauka and Paul Muite mounted a spirited defence on the submissions by the Attorney General Githu Muigai, saying he was misleading the court that the country will be left behind in terms of technology.

“Digital migration is a process and not an event. People need time to embrace the technology as well as buy set top boxes (STB). Some people do not have TV sets that are compatible with the STB currently on sale in the market,” said Kurauka.

Cofek also said the Government needs to subsidise the prices. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga wanted to know what efforts the corporate bodies have made to that effect. Kuarauka responded that the Ministry of Information declined to allow Cofek and media owners to spearhead the campaign to embrace digital migration.

Communication Authority of Kenya lawyer Wambua Kilonzo, submitted that there is no time the country will be ready to move from analogue to digital. “That is why we wanted to move in phases to address emerging challenges.”

Supreme Court judges led by Mutunga heard that the appellate court was right to determine that a third license was available for issuance to three leading media houses in the country, Nation Media Group, The Standard Group and the Royal Media Services, through a consortium.

 Commercial activities

Lawyer Issa Mansur, for local media owners, asked the court to uphold the court of appeal decision that intellectual property rights of the three media firms would be violated if Star Times, Pan Africa Network Group and Signet were allowed to carry their content without consent.

“NTV, KTN and Citizen televisions are out to offer free to air content and are engaged in commercial business, which stands a risk if those with Broadcast Signal Distribution (BSD) licenses also engage in commercial activities. They are operating now as signal carriers at the same time as broadcasters,” said Mansur.

Issa submitted that the Government had a clear road map when it had said the existing media houses analogue infrastructure did not deserve to go into waste hence had a plan to issue a third license.

Media owner’s lawyers told the court that CCK was not the body envisaged to issue license, hence their decision to deny them BSD licenses and frequencies.