The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: CCK, Cofek Digital TV Talks Fail to Take Off

NEGOTIATIONS between Communications Commission of Kenya and Consumer Federation, aimed at agreeing on a suitable date to switch off analogue Tv transmission, failed to take off after fresh disagreements arose between the two parties.

Cofek yesterday snubbed a meeting between it and CCK citing involvement of outside parties contrary to court orders. In a ruling on January 11, High Court judge Isaac Lenaola directed the CCK and the consumer lobby group to negotiate on an agreeable new date, saying the initial December 31 date was untimely and improper.

CCK is in support of involving all industry stakeholders like broadcasters, government, other consumer lobby groups,the Digital secretariat ans vendors in the new date deliberations. However, Cofek said it should be the only party to negotiate with CCK since it was the only one that sought legal action.

"We are ready to negotiate with CCK, but someone wants to be mischievous and put us in a group. The court order clearly states this should be a two party discussion," Stephen Mutoro said yesterday on phone.

The court gave CCK and Cofek up to February 20 to come up with new date, with a hearing on that day if parties fail to agree.

In the email exchange between CCK and Cofek officials seen by the Star,t he Commission said it was is putting together a team that will enter into structured discussions with Cofek as directed by the courts.

"We had called Cofek for a meeting today, but they did not respond. We want to draw the framework which will involve all stakeholders", said CCK Director General Francis Wangusi.

CCK says it wants to resolve the issue conclusively and avoid other consumer groups or broadcasters going back to court. But Mutoro says, "If any of the other stakeholders had issues with the switch off of December 31, they would have moved to court like we did".

Information PS Bitange Ndemo, who has been pushing for immediate migration and sits on the CCK board, has already ruled out the possibility of negotiating with Cofek alone.

"The constitution dictates that we consult with stakeholders. We cannot therefore have talks with Cofek which has non elected officials. We shall however have consultations with all stakeholders. If we continue to give latitude to Cofek, we shall one time regret because in my view they will take up on everything," Ndemo wrote on The Kenya ICT Action Network platform on January 13. The standstill might see the negotiation window close, which will leave the fate of Tv consumers to the court.

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