Nairobi — The switch from analogue to digital TV transmission will finally be effected from midnight on Boxing Day, as Kenya moves towards meeting its international obligation.
It has not however been a smooth transition with three major media houses pushing for its postponement several times and eventually unsuccessfully moving to court to block it.
And on Tuesday, Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i came guns blazing announcing that the migration would be effected in two days' time.
Matiang'i said that those living in Nairobi, Kiambu, Embu, Machakos, Kajiado, Kerugoya, Kitengela, Ngong, Ong'ata Rongai, Isinya, Athi River, Thika, Kigumo, Githunguri and Makuyu would all be switched off if they had not yet equipped themselves with the required set boxes.
"The rest of the country is not affected by this switch off hence consumers should continue receiving analogue TV signals until such time they shall be switched off. The rest of the migration programme remains the same," he said.
He further urged all existing analogue TV broadcasters to make the necessary arrangements and observe the deadline.
Matiang'i also assured Kenyans that there were enough set-top boxes in the country and that more would be brought in to meet any arising demand.
He urged Kenyans not to be hoodwinked into believing that there would be a shortage of the digital gadgets.
"Out of about 1.5 million TVs within the radius of our first switch off phase, nearly 500,000 are already on the digital migration platform because they have subscribed to either DSTV or GOtv," he explained.
"That leaves us with about a million and of those about 700,000 have actually bought the boxes."
Matiang'i at the same time hit out at the Nation Media Group, the Royal Media Services Group and the Standard Group over their intentional 'switch off' after they lost their Court petition.
He said that they had abused the broadcasting rules that they promised to adhere to when they were given their operating licenses saying that there would be consequences.
Reliable sources indicate that the media houses have already received letters from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) demanding an explanation. They will also face hefty fines as a result.
"The conditions are so clear and they were supposed to write to CCK because they were not supposed to be off air for up to three hours without informing them. And they know that," he explained.
He further accused the TV stations of crying foul because they had lost the bid to be the digital signal distributors.
Matiang'i noted that they had been fuelling lies about selling their content to the Chinese firm that won the signal tender while at the same time claiming that Kenyans would have to part with a monthly subscription fee of Sh500 as a result of the move.
"What they had been doing is engaging in a propaganda campaign. Responsible media houses do not lie to the people. Purchasing a set-top box is a one off expenditure. There is no monthly charge that you are supposed to pay," he maintained.
And while the three TV houses had been complaining that consumers were not duly informed of the migration process, Matiang'i confirmed that they refused to run consumer awareness adverts about it.
"On one hand they would say that there is a low level of consumer awareness but they refused to take adverts that we were paying for. It is like killing your mother and crying for forgiveness because you are an orphan," he retorted.
Matiang'i added that the Digital Transition Committee had held 75 meetings over the migration and the media houses had representatives sitting in the committee.
According to the government, when an August date for the switch was proposed, the three TV stations proposed for a December date but then when the December date finally caught up, they started complaining again.
"December came and the goal posts switched again and new issues came up. And even when they said they were uncomfortable with the December 13 date I held a meeting with them. But the media owners would not listen and they said they would go to Court," he revealed.