29 March 2014

Kenya: Digital Migration Deadline Extended to September 30

Those who are yet to purchase TV Set Top Boxes have been given a reprieve after the Court of Appeal ruled that that digital migration be postponed till September 30, an 8-month extension from now.

The digital migration deadline has been moved severally by the courts from October 2013, to December 2013, then to various days in March 2014 until the current deadline of September 30.

While making the ruling in the case pitting the government through Ministry of ICT and Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) and three broadcasters (Nation Media Group, Standard Media Group and Royal Media Services), the court revoked the signal distribution awarded to China's (Pan African Network Group) and ordered a fresh tender process.

The three judge bench - composed of Justices Roselyne Nambuye, David Maraga and Daniel Musinga - ordered that the three media houses in the suit be issued with a signal distribution license, as the CAK was not properly constituted when it issued the license to PANG.

"The digital migration date is still far ahead as per the set international deadline of June 2015 and it is our view that an additional six months will be adequate for all stake holders to agree on an independent body to issue the digital licenses," ruled the judges.

The ruling means that the government is barred from switching off analogue signals till the new date of September 30.

The new 8-month window provided by the ruling can be utilized by the government to create more awareness about the migration exercise and increase uptake of Set Top Boxes while vendors of digital broadcast services can also use the opportunity to educate the masses about the various Set Top Boxes (STBs) on offer.

A recent research by Ipsos Synovate found that only 32 per cent of Nairobi residents with TV sets have purchased STBs. The survey, conducted in the first week of March 2014 in Nairobi, the number of households with the boxes in Nairobi is higher than the national average which stands at 29 per cent.

The Ipsos Synovate Kenya Audience Research Foundation (KARF) survey found that most of the STBs were acquired by Kenya's 8 million TV households in December.

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