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The government has postponed the deadline for
digital migration to June next year in what Media
Owners say is a positive move to bring all
stakeholders on board.
On Sunday, following a meeting with President Uhuru
Kenyatta, Information Cabinet Secretary Fred
Matiang’i agreed to push the migration deadline to
June next year. However, the Information Cabinet
Secretary left it open as on how the new schedule
would be implemented.
On Thursday, media chiefs are expected to meet Dr
Matiangi on his invitation for discussions on how the
new deadline should be handled.
CONDUCTED IN PHASES
Kenya had previously set a switch-over date from
analogue to digital broadcast at December 2012
based on the International Telecommunication Union
(ITU) digital terrestrial television migration deadline
of 17th June, 2015.
Although the analogue switch-off was to be
conducted in phases starting with Nairobi, Consumer
lobby group Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek)
went to court arguing the programme could
disadvantage many Kenyans especially at the time of
elections.
The government later agreed to talks and Cofek
withdrew the case.
However, media owners still had several issued
which they thought the changed December 2013
switch-off would make it difficult to address. (READ:
Analogue TV switch off set for December)
On Tuesday, Mr Kiprono Kittony the Media Owners
Association (MOA) Chairman said a June 2014 date
would provide more time to have discussions with
the government over issues they don’t agree with.
“The change of dates will allow us to address certain
issues the government has not addressed. First of all,
as media owners, we have had issues with foreign
ownership of signal distributors. This will allow us to
address that.
“Secondly, we are not satisfied that there are enough
STBs (Set Top Boxes) out there. We don’t want to
disenfranchise Kenyans when the deadline arrives in
December. If you look at Tanzania for example, they
have had a similar narrative, which we are trying to
avoid.”
An October notice by Dr Matiangi had indicated that
Nairobi would be the first to be switched off from
December 13, 2013 followed by Mombasa, Malindi,
Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and
Eldoret from March 30, 2014. The entire country was
to be switched off by June 30 next year.
A switch-off of analogue broadcast would require that
all firms providing terrestrial TV transmissions in VHF
or UHF frequencies would be forced to move their
transmission to the digital signal.
That means that a viewer at home would have to buy
a digitizer, often called a Set Top Box. Media owners
and Cofek had earlier argued that the boxes are still
too expensive for most Kenyans meaning many
would be locked out of the new venture.
MOA have been demanding the third digital signal
distribution license under the Associations’ Digital
Connect Company. The Association was denied the
first two, one of which went to a Chinese firm.

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