22 January 2013

Kenya: Nation Could Miss Global Digital TV Switch

Nairobi — Information and Communications Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo has warned that Kenya risks missing the internationally agreed deadline to migrate from analogue TV to digital signal by 2015, if the process continues to be delayed.

This is after the High Court early this month suspended the switch-off until after the March 4 elections, following a petition by the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) which argued Kenyans were not yet ready for it.

The migration deadline had initially been extended to December 31 last year from September.

Ndemo called on the lobby group to cooperate with the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and ensure the migration kicks off before July this year.

"It is very sad that we have had this setback because it takes an average of five years to migrate. Those countries that have done so started like eight years ago that is why we need to push and migrate. There is nobody that will say because Kenya delayed, give them some more time. No, the cut-off will still come by 2015," Ndemo told Capital FM Business on Tuesday.

He said the negotiations between CCK and Cofek on the matter are expected to start early next month after the court urged the parties to agree on the deadline among other contentious issues.

"We only have three years. That is not sufficient time to migrate. So we will have to explain more clearly to all the stakeholders and tell them that we have to move. The government has done its bit and we will still see what we can do to get more incentives," he added.

Ndemo insists that the country needs to hasten the process for resulting hitches to be corrected before the global deadline.

Some of the demands that Cofek plans to present before CCK during the negotiations is to have the switch-off deadline pushed to October 31 this year to give Kenyans ample time to prepare for the switch-off.

Cofek also wants the cost of the set-top boxes lowered to less than Sh1,000 from the current Sh5,000.

The High Court gave the parties until February 20 to reach a consensus. If negotiations will have not commenced by then, Cofek will advise the High Court to proceed and make its own determination on the matter.

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