The Star (Nairobi)

10 December 2012

Kenya: Cofek Challenges TV Switch-Off Deadline

A consumer organization has filed a suit seeking to block the government from executing the impending switch from analogue television transmission ... ( Resource: Kenyan Govt Sued Over Digital Migration

THE planned switch off of from analogue television transmission to digital by the government is "ill-timed" and will be too costly for users, a consumer lobby group has said.

Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary general Stephen Mutoro has said that Kenya is being irrational in rushing to beat the global deadline three years before its due yet majority of TV owners will not be able to acquire a set top box on time mainly because of cost.

"Consumers Federation of Kenya's view is that the planned switch-off is no priority over denying access to an estimated viewership of 1.5 million analogue TVs within Nairobi and its environs," said Mutoro in a statement released on Saturday.

"Whether it is ambitious for Kenya to have to "comply" with a global dateline three years earlier or an individual being keen on personal exaltation is any one's guess."

Last week the government said that it will switch off analogue transmission within Nairobi to compel as part of migration to digital transmission. It is estimated that at least 80 per cent of TV users will be affected by the switch off since the uptake of set top boxes- the device that transform signals from analogue to digital for old tv sets-has been very low.

"We find the government's move not only unreasonable but expensive to consumers, most of whom do not have surplus funds to purchase the required set-boxes to shift to digital television frequency signals," said Mutoro.

He added that the timing of the switch off was suspect because of the ongoing civic education media campaigns and other matters pertaining to the upcoming general elections.

COFEK said the impending switch off contravenes provisions of Articles 10, 27 and 35 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 because it discriminates against individuals who cannot afford set-boxes at an estimated cost of up to Sh5,000.

Communication PS Bitange Ndemo said last week that the government will adhere to the deadline because it has become expensive to manage the analogue transmissions and also that the freed up frequencies through changing to digital would fasten access to high speed internet. The government is doing the switch in phases starting with Nairobi.

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