3 TV stations lose bid to block digital migration

December 24, 2013 6:38 am


Justice Majanja said the media houses were represented in the team that mapped out digital migration. Photo/FELIX MAGARA
Justice Majanja said the media houses were represented in the team that mapped out digital migration. Photo/FELIX MAGARA

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 23 – A Court battle by three media houses, seeking to stop the TV migration from analogue to digital has been dismissed with High Court Judge David Majanja saying that the switch is inevitable.

Majanja, who accused Nation Media Group, Standard Group and Royal Media Services of attempting to use the Court to protect their own commercial interests, added on Monday that the country cannot continue taking a rain check on the expected move.

He noted that the broadcasters refused to participate in meetings that arrived at the migration timetable after losing a bid to be licensed as signal distributors, arguing that their concerns were not entirely genuine.

“The process of migration was long drawn and I am convinced that this petition was to protect broadcasters’ commercial interests,” he said while awarding the costs to the respondents and the second interested party.

But the ruling did not go down well with the media houses’ lawyer Paul Muite, who sought to have the Court grant an additional 30-day extension so as to give the media houses time to file an appeal.

This request was however rejected with Majanja saying that the petitioners had not showed how they would suffer losses if they did not get the stay.

Majanja however observed that the government and some media outlets had pumped in money in readiness for the switch and they would suffer losses if an additional delay was granted.

“Granting the order would negate the very commitment the petitioners made in the implementation process as evidenced by the minutes of the consensus reached at the 65th meeting. In the circumstances the application for the conservatory order is dismissed,” ruled Majanja.

Lawyers representing the government, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) as well as other media outlets had earlier asked the Court to reject Muite’s application.

A lawyer acting for the Attorney General Mwangi Njoroge said the request must be rejected because Muite had not given compelling reasons why a stay should be granted.

Wambua Kilonzo, who is representing the CCK, said the switch was being done at an international level and any further delay would have a spill over effect which would mean that Kenya would be unable to meet its global obligations.

“What results is a delay, a delay and a delay. Even the 10 days extension that they were given will have an effect,” he argued.

Signet Limited and West Media Limited are also party to the case and they were also opposed to an additional extension.

Majanja further ruled that the media houses had not demonstrated how intellectual property rights will be violated by the switch terming the allegations as frivolous.

This means that TV viewers in Nairobi and its environs must get the digital set-top boxes before CCK switches off the analogue transmission.

Muite is however planning to move the fight to the Court of appeal.

“We will be filing the application this afternoon and if it is possible we hope that we can get a hearing tomorrow,” he said.


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