NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – The September 1 deadline to switch off analogue TV signals and migrate Nairobi to digital transmission has been pushed to the end of December in order to give the private sector and government stakeholders more time to organise the switch.
According to the Ministry of Information and Communications Director of Administration Bruce Madete, 50 percent of Kenyan households have made the switch to digital and they are aiming to convert 80 percent of total homes in Kenya by the beginning of 2013.
Madete revealed that to promote the transition to digital TV, the Digital Television Committee through the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has launched awareness road shows aimed at sensitising Kenyans on the digital migration process and the need to switch over from the analogue to digital TV platform.
The nine-day road show will feature authorised vendors setting up tents at various stopovers to educate customers and sell their products to Kenyans in the Nairobi region. CCK Commission Secretary John Omo revealed that the digital equipment will vary in cost but should not be more than Sh6,000 thanks to the government’s decision to waive import duty.
“On average we think the price will be no more than Sh6,000 but various manufacturers have their cost inputs in their products, so there can’t be one standard price for all the products,” he explained.
The digital set-top boxes and signals have already been made available in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu and Omo explained that the road show will increase awareness on the digital migration process, the benefits of digital TV broadcasting and the opportunities, milestones and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the digital migration process.
He made it clear that the government is working to make sure that all Kenyans are given the choice between signing up for Pay TV and Free-to-Air TV to ensure that all Kenyans can enjoy the service, even if some can’t afford to pay the monthly subscription rates.
“If you look at the constitution, it’s the responsibility of government to provide information to its citizens, but this cannot be done alone without involving other private sector stakeholders,” he said.
“We’re trying to work out a mechanism where we have the free to air channels and also the pay channels, so that the citizen who can’t afford to pay can still enjoy the free to air channels,” he explained.
Information PS Bitange Ndemo acknowledged that the country has made significant strides in the digital migration process, with the government actively involving stakeholders in the broadcasting sector to speed up and simplify the migration process.
“We have managed to overcome several policy and technical challenges and we have no excuse not to achieve the 2015 global deadline,” he noted.
“The government has created an environment where consumers are able to make their own choice between free to air and digital pay TV platforms and the government will continue to open up the industry to ensure that more consumers are able to access digital broadcasting services,” he added.
Ndemo revealed that the State expects four million analogue viewers to have migrated to digital TV by the end of this year’s migration deadline.
CCK Director General Francis Wangusi said that the Commission is seeking to educate Kenyans on the various issues surrounding digital migration and what this means for the country as we approach the 2015 global deadline.
“We are well aware of the low awareness amongst Kenyans about the role of digital migration in development of the broadcasting sector,” he said.
“We want to engage heavily with consumers to educate and guide them through out this process to enable the country to effectively migrate to the digital platform,” he explained.
He added that the road show is an engagement aimed at complementing the ongoing media campaign going under the slogan ‘Join the Great Digital Migration’ and he advised Kenyans to buy only set top boxes approved by the CCK and from authorized vendors to avoid buying counterfeits.
“These road shows are a complement of the ongoing media campaign which we have undertaken in the newspapers, television and radio commercials and other platforms,” he noted.
“The Commission shall eventually extend the awareness campaigns to other parts of the country as the digital signal is rolled out,” he confirmed.
The caravan will run from September 7 to September 16 and it will pass through Nairobi’s Central Business District, city estates and satellite towns including Machakos, Thika, Limuru and Ngong to give consumers an opportunity to interact with the digital team.