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State says KBC, Smart TV deal clean

BUSIA
By | March 4th 2011

By Peter Opiyo

The Government has accused the local television stations of planning to frustrate the digital migration rollout programme.

While appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Information and Communication, Communication PS Bitange Ndemo said the stations had failed to adhere to the requirements set out by the State.

He also denied claims that the ministry acted illegally by entering into an agreement with Smart TV to broadcast digital content.

He told the James Rege-led committee that the local stations were given time to provide new content for digital broadcast to help in the roll-out of the programme that would aid the migration from analogue to digital broadcast, but they were still buying time.

It is at this point that Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) entered into an agreement with Smart TV, said Dr Ndemo.

"We gave every broadcaster a free channel so that they give us new content as they continue to advertise on the analogue system, but for one full year they never gave us content," he said.

The PS said the Government was conscious of time and did not want a situation where Kenya would go to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) — a body that regulates global telecommunications — to seek extension of the migration period.

Kenya is set to migrate to digital broadcasting by 2012 while the global deadline is 2015.

Cried foul

Besides, he said, not one of the local TV stations has digital broadcast licence, save for KBC, thereby complicating matters.

The Government established Signet, a subsidiary company of KBC, to give platform for the migration from analogue to digital broadcasts.

Appearing before the same committee on Tuesday, Media Owners Association cried foul over the deal, saying the State acted behind their backs and engaged in an irregularity by entering into a deal with Smart TV.

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