For the past month or so, Tv viewers using GOtv and StarTimes have not been able to view KTN, NTV and Citizen TV channels through their decoders. Users trying to access these channels are met with a not so polite message saying that the carriage license for that particular channel has expired and is in the renewal process. This has been the case for a long time to even force the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COEFK) to move to court to compel the digital TV distributors to air the channels.
The petition filed by COEFK reads, “(We pray that) the honourable court hereby issues an order compelling the 1st and 2nd respondents to compensate affected pre-paid subscribers by way of either refunds and/or credit equivalent to the period the Local Free-To-Air channels have not been relayed.”
The decision by the Appellate court that required the digital TV distributors to get consent from the broadcasters before airing their content was upheld by the Supreme court sometime back meaning that the Signal distributors can air the channels if and when they want. This is what COEFK told the High court and wants the court to compel the distributors to air these channels. COEFK also blamed CCK for not acting on the issue in time and turning a deaf ear to the complaints of the consumers.
COEFK says it has received many complaints from customers who have already paid to watch these channels but they are denied the service due to the sour relationship between the media houses and the signal distributors.
There has been a cold war-like relationship between these three media houses and the distributors for some time now that at some point forced the media houses to withdraw their signals in protest. This was later resolved in court and seems to be back again this time involving COEFK
Justice Ngugi who is presiding over the case asked the respondents to appear in court on May 18 for this to be resolved.