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Nairobi, environs to be ‘switched off’ midnight

JUSTICE-DAVID-MAJANJANAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 26 – The much hyped switch off of analogue broadcasting signals is due to start Thursday midnight in Nairobi and its environs.

The Government will roll out the digital migration even as three major media houses prepare to appear before the Court of Appeal on Friday to challenge a High Court decision that dismissed a petition they filed seeking to delay the switch.

Nairobi, Kiambu, Ngong, Ongata Rongai, Kitengela, Isinya, Kajiado, Athi River, Machakos, Thika, Makuyu, Kigumo, Kerugoya, Githunguri and Embu will be affected by the first migration.

This means that TV viewers in the affected areas must get digital set-top boxes before CCK switches off the analogue transmission.

The Nation Media Group, Standard Group and Royal Media Services, through the lawyer Paul Muite, intend to throw a spanner into the transition works when they make an application to overturn the judgment in the appellate court on Tuesday and the matter was certified as urgent by Justice Patrick Kiage.

Justice David Majanja threw out their earlier petition on Monday, saying they had failed to prove how the migration was flawed or how it would violate their rights if effected.

Justice Majanja, who accused the trio 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.

But the broadcasters argued that, in his ruling, he completely misunderstood the constitutional issues and failed to be guided by the authorities cited to him and consequently arrived at the wrong decision, which contravenes provisions of the Constitution on media freedom.

The ruling gave the Communications Commission of Kenya the go ahead to effect the switch-off that was earlier planned to take place on December 13.

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Following the ruling, the three media houses switched off their signals and pulled their programmes out of the digital platforms before resuming transmission.

The analogue-to-digital shift was conventionally agreed upon at the Radio Communication Conference (RRC) held in Geneva under the sponsorship of the International Telecommunications Union in May 2006 and the global cutover date for the migration is June 2015.

However, lack of affordable set-top boxes has remained a stumbling block to this process.

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