, NAIROBI, Kenya Nov 11 – Kenyan broadcasters have been until November 14 to apply for new frequency licences or risk losing them.
This comes as the Communications Commission of Kenya seeks to enforce a new regulatory framework following the introduction of the Kenya Communications (Broadcasting) Regulations that is yet to be implemented.
The regulator is also seeking to repossess an estimated 150 inactive licenses held by politically-connected individuals issued by the Kanu and Narc administrations. This is seen as a key plank of reforms that the CCK is set to enforce for the broadcasting industry under a new law.
CCK Acting Director General Francis Wangusi said on Thursday that the issuance of new licenses will firstly be on the basis of the existing resources and frequency licences that were legitimately assigned by the regulator.
“In this respect the Commission shall take action against any broadcaster in possession of illegal frequency resources after the lapse of the November 15 deadline,” Wangusi said.
Wangusi however clarified that frequencies would not be turned off following the deadline as contracts with the regulator last through to July 2012.
“We are not going to switch them of immediately but come July next year we shall not be renewing their licences, but instead re allocate them to new broadcasters,” he stressed.
The move is expected to unlock investment opportunities for more than 3,000 Kenyans who have been unable to break into the lucrative market for lack of frequencies.
With an estimated 100 broadcasters in the country, 26 of them had no applied for the new licences as of Thursday. There are currently 18 television broadcasters with the rest held by radio broadcasters.
Under the current framework, new broadcasters will have to wait six months before being issued with licences. Wangusi said this is to ensure that those seeking frequencies demonstrate the ability to set up either a radio or TV station and avoid a situation where one hoards a frequency.
“This will give them ample time to put up their equipment and have time to test their operations. We don’t want to be issuing frequencies that then go and end up being idle,” he said.
The new regulatory framework will also introduce a new licence fee structure, where broadcasters will no longer be charged on the signal strength. The CCK will zone out the country into densely populated and sparsely populated regions in determining how much the licensing fee is going to be.
Those in the sparsely populated regions will be charged half of that charged to those acquiring a licence where there are more people.
A radio licence costs Sh130,000 while that for TV costs Sh360,000. This means one getting a licence in a sparsely populated region will pay Sh65,000 and Sh180,000 respectively.