NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 22 – Information and Communications Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has defended the withdrawal of Broadcast Signal Distribution licenses used by three media companies saying it was a temporary provision to help them in the digital migration process.
Speaking to Capital in the Morning on Thursday, Matiang’i indicated that there was no cancellation of the licenses used by Citizen, NTV, QTV and KTN as indicated in media reports and has warned against politicising the matter.
He stated that despite being given a temporary license to distribute their signals, the three media houses acted in bad faith when they went to court to extend the deadline for the digital migration process.
“The only reason why they allowed them temporary self provisioning is to enable them to migrate as they actually promised they would do but before the migration date on December 31, they proceeded to court. You cannot further award a signal distribution license outside of a process of competition,” he said.
He also hit out at the media houses for running advertisements which were misleading concerning two signal distributors, GOtv and StarTimes, and emphasized that it was in violation of broadcasting regulations laid out to production companies.
“They started running commercials that are inaccurate, misleading, propagandist and illegal against their competition, GOTv and StarTimes. Even passing out information to the public that was not entirely accurate about the Set Top Boxes. They continued doing this in total violation of the regulations that they are supposed to respect in broadcasting,” he stated.
The Information CS also refuted claims of favoritism in the award of a broadcasting and distribution license and stated that a competitive process was followed.
“The award of the broadcasting and distribution license was done through a competitive process. This is what Kenyans need to know that you do not participate in a competitive process and when you have lost, you begin to demonize it. I am going to request the Communication Authority of Kenya today to make public the results of that competition, how it was conducted and how these three media houses lost out,” he said.
He explained that the three media houses in question were knocked out of the process following rigorous bidding.
“The impression being created that somebody arrived here and was given license across the counter… is not the case. It was through a competitive process and in fact when these particular three media houses felt they were aggrieved, they went to the Public Procurement Oversight Authority and they lost. They lodged a complaint with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, that process was reviewed back and forth and was discovered to have been objective and transparent. They went to court and they lost,” he said.
He stated that the digital migration should be looked at positively as it would put the country on an international platform.
“Technology is moving and we are moving and we must do so with digital migration. A time has now come when we must be serious about this. We have wasted so much time. It is the right of the three media houses to stay on the Analogue platform until June 2014. It is their right, but for the rest of Kenyans, who are interested in migrating, let us move,” he said.
“The second phase begins on February 2 and we will complete this process by March 31. That is our focus, that is our interest. Technology is moving and Kenya is not going to be left behind because a certain group of investors want to control advertising revenue by remaining on the analogue platform.”