Media houses in court to stop digital migration

November 22, 2013 2:59 pm
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Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and the Standard Group claim that the government is yet to put in place adequate measures to ensure availability of universal set-top boxes for receiving digital transmission countrywide/FILE
Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and the Standard Group claim that the government is yet to put in place adequate measures to ensure availability of universal set-top boxes for receiving digital transmission countrywide/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 22 – Three media houses have now moved to court seeking orders to stop the government from effecting the TV digital migration next month.

In their application, the three media houses want the process put on hold arguing that they stand to suffer huge financial loss if the government goes ahead with its plan to switch off all analogue TV frequencies in Nairobi and its environs starting December 13.

Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and the Standard Group claim that the government is yet to put in place adequate measures to ensure availability of universal set-top boxes for receiving digital transmission countrywide.

“The government has so far distributed only 170,000 set top boxes yet the number of television sets is estimated at eight million countrywide,” they said.

“If the December 13 deadline is not extended, more than 90 percent of viewers will not be able to receive any broadcasts on their TV sets as was experienced in Tanzania when switch off was effected on December 31, 2012,” they added.

The media outlets have named the Attorney General , the Information Ministry, Communications Commission of Kenya(CCK) , Signet Kenya Limited, Star Times Media Limited, Pan African Network Group Kenya Limited and GOTv Kenya Limited as respondents.

The applicants are also complaining that CCK through a letter dated August 19, 2013 authorised Signet Kenya Limited, Star Times Media Limited, Pan African Network Group Kenya Limited and GOTV Kenya Limited to intercept broadcasts by the three local media houses without their approval.

“If the switch off is not temporarily stopped until the case they have filed in court is heard and determined we stand to suffer irreparable damage having collectively invested over Sh40 billion in the business,” they lamented.

The move comes despite a letter ICT Ministry Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i dated November 6, 2013, urging the Media Owners Association (MOA) to stop efforts to push for further extension of the analogue switch off date from December 13 this year to June next year.

Matiang’i maintains that the government has put in place all the required measures to see a smooth transition to digital TV platform starting next month in Nairobi and its environs.

“I wish to urge the MOA to work together with the government to ensure that the benefits of digital technology in broadcasting are enjoyed by Kenyans at the earliest opportunity,” Matiangi said.

He laments that it was not fair for MOA to continue calling for a new date, since all the stakeholders, MOA included, had already agreed on December 13 from October 31 this year.

According to the Ministry, there is a shortfall of 200,000 set top boxes which can be imported within 21 days if the transition kicks off.

He added that the CCK will continue with public awareness to ensure Kenyans continue to purchase the set top boxes and that the December deadline stands.

All eyes will now be at the Courts to decide on whether the government will go ahead with the switch off or not.

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