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Eat humble pie, COFEK tells media in digital row

COFEK Secretary General Stephen Mutoro has accused the four television stations of acting petulantly by ceasing their digital broadcasts in response to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) switch-off of their analogue transmissions in and around Nairobi/MIKE KARIUKI

COFEK Secretary General Stephen Mutoro has accused the four television stations of acting petulantly by ceasing their digital broadcasts in response to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) switch-off of their analogue transmissions in and around Nairobi/MIKE KARIUKI

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – The Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has called on NTV, QTV, KTN and Citizen TV to resume their digital broadcasts.

COFEK Secretary General Stephen Mutoro has accused the four television stations of acting petulantly by ceasing their digital broadcasts in response to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) switch-off of their analogue transmissions in and around Nairobi.

The responsible thing to do, Mutoro opined, would have been to allow other digital platforms to carry their content as they import their own equipment.

“It’s akin to refusing a lift from your neighbour because you’re on your way to buy a limousine. It makes absolutely no sense. Let them eat humble pie and if they find it absolutely unpalatable to work with PANG and SIGNENT, let those on DStv at least be able to watch them,” he argued.

He said the TV stations should also stop trying to create the false impression that they were backed into a corner by the regulator saying their refusal to dialogue with the CA was to blame.

“The disdain they have shown toward the CA is regrettable. Now they (the TV stations and CA) are busy pointing fingers at each other all claiming to be acting in the best interest of the public and yet we know like in the case of the TV stations, they’re simply trying to corner the digital market,” he charged.

During the Supreme Court hearing on digital migration on January 28, Wambua Kilonzo acting for the CA told the court that the TV stations refused to discuss the digital migration deadline until they were issued with a Broadcast Signal Distribution licence.

And even then they were unhappy with the number of frequencies they were awarded, Kilonzo submitted, not because they were insufficient but because they were interested in outdoing their competition by offering High Definition television.

On their part, the TV stations asked the Supreme Court to give them until May before directing that analogue transmissions be switched off arguing that the CA had taken their time to grant them a licence and that their competitors had up to two years to set up their infrastructure.

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“We applied to the CA for the license on October 1, just three days after you gave your judgment. They gave us a single UHF frequency for Nairobi on December 15. And then they announced that they would be switching off analogue signals in Nairobi on December 31 despite acknowledging to us in a letter that setting up the necessary infrastructure takes time. And I’m glad my learned friend has himself admitted that those frequencies are required when ordering for transmitters,” Senior Counsel Paul Muite defended the TV stations.

READ: Stations to remain analogue as court considers appeal

The Supreme Court on Friday however adjudged that the digital migration process should go on as scheduled by the CA.

A judgment that led to the turning off of NTV, QTV, KTN and Citizen TV’s analogue transmissions in Nairobi and its environs.

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