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Why local broadcasters might lose signal licence

By | November 11th 2011

By Macharia Kamau

Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) is contemplating inviting bids from other firms that might be interested in the digital distribution signal.

This will mean local broadcasters might lose out on the third digital distribution signal licence.

The Government had in August this year said it would give the signal to a consortium of local media houses, but now CCK says they have delayed in forming a company to be issued with the licence.

The first licence was issued to Signet, a Kenya Broadcasting subsidiary, while the second licence was given to a Chinese firm – Pang – owned by Start Times of China.

The licences are being issued in preparation for the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting that is expected to take place next year.

Local companies contested the second award, which saw the Government and CCK agree that the third licence would be issued to a consortium of local broadcasters on an affirmative action basis.

The company jointly formed by interested local broadcasters would be exempted from a tendering process in the interest of affirmative action, given that the first licence was issued to Government owned institution while the second to a foreign firm.

No company

Francis Wangusi acting director general CCK, however, said the broadcasters have been slow forming the company that is supposed to be issued with the licence.

"There was a condition that the broadcasters would form a consortium and that company would be issued with the third licence. In the absence of the company, we would rather do a tender and award the third licence to a company that emerges a winner of the competitive process," he said.

Wangusi spoke yesterday in Nairobi at a press briefing. He said broadcasters have until Tuesday next week to hand in an application for new permits to the CCK.

The telecommunications regulator said it would not extend the November 15 deadline set in August and would go ahead to repossess frequency and spectrum resources from companies that fail to submit application for licences under the new licensing framework.

"The Commission will take action against any broadcaster in possession of illegal frequency resources after the lapse of the November 15 deadline," said Wangusi.

"Over 70 per cent of the existing broadcasters have applied. After the lapse of the deadline, however, we will have no obligation to renew the licences come July next year. If anything, we will allocate their frequency and spectrum resources to the applicants that we have on the waiting list."

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