THE much-hyped TV digital migration has been temporarily blocked. Judge David Majanja stopped the process until December 23 when he will make a substantive ruling.
Earlier, he had rejected a plea by three media houses to have the case referred to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. Majanja said the case can be handled by one High Court judge. He said it does not need to be sent to Mutunga for constitution of a three-judge bench to hear it.
The Royal Media Services, Nation Media Group and Standard Group had asked Majanja to take the matter to the CJ due to the weighty issues raised. The move by the media houses was supported by the Consumer Federation of Kenya.
However, Attorney General Githu Muigai, the Information Ministry, the Communications Commission of Kenya, Signet Kenya Ltd, Star Times Media Ltd, Pan African Network Group Kenya Ltd and GOTV Kenya Ltd objected to the application to refer the matter to Mutunga. They said it was a delaying tactic.
Immediately after dismissing the application by the media house Majanja asked the parties to start making their submissions to so as to fast track the matter.
Lawyer Paul Muite, representing the three media houses, was the first to make his application. Muite attacked the move by the government to switch to digital frequencies. He said it is unfair.
The three media houses said they will suffer huge financial loss if the government is allowed to switch off all analogue TV frequencies by Friday as planned.
They said the government is yet to put in place adequate measures to ensure the availability of universal set top boxes for receiving digital transmission countrywide.
The media houses said the government has so far distributed only 170,000 set top boxes while the number of television sets is estimated at 8 million countrywide.
They said if the switchover date is not extended, more than 90 per cent of viewers will not receive any television broadcasts on their TV sets as was experienced in Tanzania when the migration was effected on December 31, 2012.