Dormant broadcasters to lose licenses

July 1, 2009
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 – At least 15 broadcasting companies stand to lose their licenses after they failed to activate their frequencies within a June 30 deadline set by the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK).

Speaking just a day after the deadline expired, CCK Commissioner General Charles Njoroge said investigations are on-going to compile a final list of the licenses to be revoked.

“We have a list of names which we should be able to announce within the next one week after we have informed the individuals as per the law,” Mr Njoroge said.

Earlier indications were that only 96 out of 150 issued broadcast licenses were active, leaving 54 in the hands of briefcase operators.

CCK had issued the deadline for revocation in a move aimed at getting the licenses into the hands of the more than 3,000 applicants, whose approval had been put in limbo by the unavailability of frequencies.

“This is a scarce resource (frequencies) and there are competing needs. We believe as the sector grows we must also be able to ensure that those people who are ready to invest are given an opportunity,” Mr Njoroge observed, noting that some people have been holding dormant licenses for too long.

In the meantime Mr Njoroge said plans to migrate the country into digital broadcasting were on course, and that CCK recently allocated Sh154 million seed money for infrastructure development.

State-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and the Ministry of Information and Communication have been charged with the responsibility of laying down the infrastructure.

“We believe that by the end of this year we will be testing the signal but in the meantime we have already allocated signals for people with radio and television frequencies to test,” Mr Njoroge said.

CCK is marking 10 years since inception and Mr Njoroge said the regulator had helped to steer tremendous growth in the telecommunication sector.

“We are working closely with the Central Bureau of Statistics to ensure that proper numbers are captured for the industry because we have realised latest statistics on the industry are yet to be captured,” he said.

Mr Njoroge said the industry has registered a growth of over 30 percent in the last two years and now commands 2.5 percent of the country’s GDP which is equivalent to Sh12 billion, largely driven by growth in mobile telephony.

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