11 January 2013

Kenya: Consumer Body Wants Digital TV Switch Delayed

Nairobi — The Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) now wants the deadline for switching analogue TV broadcasting to digitals signals, pushed to October 31 this year.

Speaking on Friday shortly after the High Court ordered the process to be halted, the consumer lobby group said this date will give Kenyans ample time to prepare for the switch-off.

On Friday, Justice Isaac Lenaola ruled that the process be stopped until after the March elections, urging the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and Cofek to agree on the deadline among other issues.

"We hope that negotiations will commence as early as possible with a view to reaching a consensus," Cofek's Secretary General Stephen Mutoro said.

Cofek also wants the cost of the set-boxes lowered to less than Sh1,000 from the current Sh5,000 following reports that the Treasury had agreed to subsidise the costs.

"We equally demand that the approved suppliers of the set-top boxes be increased from the current 12 to an unlimited number as long as the selected distributors meet stringent conditions," Mutoro told journalists.

The organisation has also demanded for a consumer awareness programme for at least six months through the digital television committee, where they are also seeking representation.

"We expect the digital TV broadcasters to invest in informing consumers on their respective offerings on condition that such marketing and promotions shall not be deceptive or ambiguous," Mutoro added.

He hopes the negotiations on the matter will start next week between CCK and Cofek.

In the event that the parties fail to agree, Mutoro said Cofek will advise the High Court to proceed and make its own determination about the matter.

CCK had earlier argued that the country needs to go ahead with the digital migration as soon as possible to allow for resulting hitches to be corrected before the global deadline of June 2015.

However Cofek says that the delay will allow more suppliers in the market hence increase competition that will lead to lower prices for the set-top boxes.

The aim of switching to digital broadcasting from analogue is to allow broadcasters to offer higher picture quality.

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