Since our last update on #DigitalMigration here, the so-called “Analogue 3” namely Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and Standard Group have pulled their television broadcasts off-air after the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) seized their analogue broadcasting equipment on February 14, 2015 following a ruling by the Supreme Court that reinstated the CA’s switch-off deadlines for digital migration.
The on-going stand off between the regulator and the Analogue 3 has led to accusations and counter accusations on which party is at fault for failing to abide by the deadlines and information from the three media houses all blaming CA for this state of affairs. Due to the power the Analogue 3 yield, many Kenyans have only heard one side of the Digital Migration story there the Bloggers Association of Kenya invited the CA to tell the other side of this story for Kenyans to fully understand why things are as they stand. The forum with CA took place on February 25, 2015 at the Nailab and was very well-attended. For those who missed the forum, you may re-trace the conversations via the twitter hashtag: #CAExp.
During #CAExp, CA’s representatives did a good job of convincing the audience that the regulatory action it has taken thus far have been both legal and in the public interest. CA maintains that the Supreme Court of Kenya on February 13, 2015 ruled that the analogue switch-off dates remain as scheduled ahead of the international deadline of June 17, 2015. According to CA, the apex court’s ruling also implied that any stations still broadcasting on the analogue platform in the areas already switched off were required to migrate to the digital platform with immediate effect. CA therefore gave media houses on the analogue platform up to midnight of 13th February 2015 to migrate to the digital platform. All media houses migrated to the digital platform except the three media houses, Nation Media Group, Standard Group and Royal Media Services, operating under investment company Africa Digital Network (ADN). Therefore on February 14, 2015 CA proceeded to take necessary regulatory action to switch-off the Analogue 3’s analogue signals. Thereafter CA claims that the Analogue 3 of their own volition went ahead and withdrew their content from the digital platform (SIGNET and Pan African Network Group signal distribution networks) and selected pay TV service providers (Star Times, DStv and GOTv).
CA is adamant that Digital television broadcasting is a technological change with numerous beneﬁts to the country. The process begun in 2007 and all media houses and other players have had enough time to prepare ﬁnancially, commercially as well as technically to migrate to the digital platforms. The media houses failed Kenyans by not preparing for this technological change. It should be noted that Kenya’s failure to migrate will negatively impact the frequency planning in the country and neighbouring countries. In this connection, CA argues digital migration will create thousands of jobs and huge investment opportunities. The Authority has already licensed over 40 content service providers on the digital platform. The providers have to create content and this will uplift the media and ﬁlm production industry and create employment.
What next in the Analogue 3 vs CA stand-off?
The Supreme Court ruling of February 13, 2015 directed CA to restore the self-provisioning authorization and the requisite frequencies with a condition that the media houses abide by all the conditions that had earlier accompanied the grant of authorization for self-provisioning. CA confirms that the three media houses, through their consortium, ADN have applied for a set-top box vendor’s licence from CA and that the application is now under consideration. However, CA notes that ADN is yet to submit a sample set-top box for type-approval.
In a recent letter by CA to the Analogue 3 dated February 26, 2015, the regulator states as follows:
“The Authority has noticed with grave concern that you have terminated the transmission of your broadcast programmes on the digital platform since 17th February 2015 to date (….) Both the Supreme Court decision and the resultant Authority’s directive only required switch off of analogue transmissions as per the gazetted switch off schedule, and not digital transmissions.
Consequently, the Authority hereby requires you to reinstate your channels on the digital platform within seven (7) days of this letter (….) Failure to reinstate the channels and to stop broadcasting the misleading information shall invite regulatory action by the Authority without further reference to you.”
The #digitalmigration saga continues…