The journey to move Kenya’s TV signal transmission from analogue to digital has been met by a number of challenges from lawsuits to the luck of the recommended DVB-T2 set top boxes. All these factors have slowed down the country’s progress into the digital world. Globally, June 17, 2015 is the date set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that will require all the member states to switch off all their analogue signals.
The lawsuit filed by 3 Media houses late last year to prevent the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) from switching all analogue signals in Nairobi and its environs has raised a number of questions among consumers and experts alike. The main reason as to why these three broadcasters (Royal Media Services, the Standard Group and Nation Media Group) went to court is still amiss. The three broadcasters argued that with the immediate switch to analogue signal, most consumers will be left out as there aren’t enough set top boxes in the country yet.
For my part I think the main reason why these three broadcasters opted to go to court may be due to the fact that if the country switches to digital transmission, they will not be allowed to broadcast directly to the viewers. For them to reach us (the viewers) they will have to transmit their content to a Digital Signal Distributor (DSD) who will them transmit the signal to viewers. This may be quite disastrous for them not being able to control their own content.
The use of foreign-owned or a government-linked DSD is one other reason that the three broadcasters used as they tried to get the court to stop the migration. They argued that these DSDs may sensor or deny distribution of their signals for one reason or another. this is a very valid point they have raised that the government has not addressed.
The migration from analogue to digital as of now has been temporarily stopped as we await the court’s ruling on March 14 (2014). This means that we have just over a week to know the next step of the digital migration journey in Kenya.
Even though as a country we are in a hurry to switch over to digital migration, we still need to address some of the issues raised by the broadcasters as they are the key players in this industry. Ensuring that there are enough set top boxes may solve part of the problem but not all of it. The government will also need to assure the broadcasters and viewers that it will not censor any of their content.
We will have to wait for March 14 to see what direction this journey towards a digital country will take.