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Analogue TV switch-off to proceed in Kenya, Communications Authority of Kenya announces

SCI & TECH
By WAHOME THUKU and Brigid Chemweno | January 1st 2015
From left:Principal Secretary, Ministry of ICT Joseph Tiampati, CS Fred Matiang'i,  CAK Director,Consumer and public Affairs Mutua Muthui and Wambua Kilonzo, lawyer representing CAK during a press conference in Nairobi on Digital Migration (PHOTO DAVID NJAAGA)

The Government was last night set to switch off analogue television broadcasting, ushering the country into a digital broadcast regime.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) announced yesterday it was going ahead to switch off the analogue broadcast signals in Nairobi and its environs as scheduled last November.

The analogue transmission was to be terminated at midnight or immediately after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s New Year speech, whichever came earlier.

 CAK pointed out that the Supreme Court had not granted a specific request by three media houses to suspend the analogue switch off, but had only stopped the authority from cancelling the broadcasting licences of the three broadcasters.

Information, Communications and Technology Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said the digital migration would proceed as expected last night but the analogue television broadcasters’ licences would not be cancelled.

Last week on Tuesday, the Supreme Court restrained CAK from cancelling broadcasting licences issued to the Standard Group, Nation Media Group and the Royal Media Group, pending the hearing and determination of an application challenging the digital migration.

Apparently, Justice Kalpana Rawal did not not grant a request by the media houses to temporary suspend the analogue switch off, leaving CAK free to terminate the signals.

The media houses filed the application, arguing there were issues that were yet to be ironed out even as the deadline for the digital switch approached.

Their lawyer Paul Muite told the court the deadline set by CAK did not comply with the three-month period given by the Supreme Court for negotiations.

Rawal ordered the parties to serve CAK with the court papers and appear before the Supreme Court on Monday next week when a bench of two judges would issue more directions on the matter.

The digital migration has been segmented into three phases, with the switchover in Nairobi expected to start today. Phase two was expected on February 2 and phase three scheduled for March 30.

 SET TOP BOXES

Yesterday, CAK announced that the analogue television broadcasters signals switched off in Nairobi will be available on the digital platform and viewers will be able to continue watching their favourite programmes.

CAK Director General Mutua Muthui said the authority has undertaken awareness campaigns in the period preceding the switch off.

“The intensity of the awareness campaign on digital migration has seen a surge in the number of people purchasing the authorised set top boxes from vendors in Nairobi. This is a good measure of the confidence that consumers have in the digital migration process and equally a sign of preparedness of the market to handle the demand,” he said.

He said the analogue switch off for Nairobi will affect Citizen TV, KTN, KBC, K24, NTV, QTV, Family TV, EATV, Kiss TV and GBS.

Mr Muthui said consumers beyond those residing in Nairobi have exhibited keen interest by asking for relevant information that will help them make a smooth transition by the set deadline.

“The authority has also launched road shows and market activations including door to door visits to ensure that residents of Nairobi are well aware about the analogue switch-off dates, the need to purchase set top boxes and even more importantly allay any fears as we move to digital migration,” he added.

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