DIGITAL (TV) MIGRATION – WHAT NEXT?

It has certainly been an eventful Christmas as far as the Migration to Digital TV in Kenya is concerned. In my previous posts, I have covered topics such as why the migration; the benefits of digital TV; how to migrate and other FAQs. Today I will do an update to summarize where we are so far:

2006

The International Telecommunications Union sets the date for the whole world to migrate to digital TV by 2015. The government of Kenya decides to do it earlier. CCK has set various deadlines over the years, but the players in the analog TV field together with the Consumer Federation of Kenya have gone to court and had the dates postponed. Time and again.

The State of Affairs in 2013

In order for digital TV to be broadcast, there have to be digital TV signal distributors who are licensed by CCK. At the moment there are two companies licensed to distribute digital signals in Kenya (not to be confused with Pay TV companies). These are Signet which is majorly owned by KBC and Pan Africa Group (PANG) which is a sister company to Star Times. The licensed Pay TV companies put together bouqets of channels to sell to customers, and give this bouquet to either Signet or PANG to distribute countrywide. The local media houses (KTN, NTV, Citizen TV) also wanted a license to distribute digital TV signals, after all.. they have invested in infrastructure for signal distribution countrywide. However, they made a mistake in their license bid and hence don’t have a license to date. That is why they are in court.

CCK went ahead and set the date for digital Migration which was to be done in phases: Nairobi and its environs 13th December 2013, followed by Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and Eldoret on March 30 2014 and the rest of the country by June 30th 204. This was to enable Kenyans to start enjoying the benefits of Digital TV, we don’t always have to wait for the last minute, or do we?

2013 Deadline Postponed; and then Postponed Again
The local media houses went to court to hear their case against CCK (why they were denied a license) heard. A high court postponed the deadline from 13th December to 23rd December so the court could have time to decide the suit. The high court dismissed the suit on 23rd December and CCK set new dates for Nairobi switch off to 26th December.

Meanwhile as CCK set the new date, the media houses went to the court of appeal to well, appeal the high court decision. However, it would not make sense to let the digital migration continue while the case was still in court by the main players in Kenya’s TV industry. Therefore the court of appeal judge set the date of determination to February 6th 2014 when the ruling on the case will be made. Meanwhile, the analog signals are back on air till then.

So What Now?

Now we wait for the ruling by the court of appeal in February. However, it does not hurt to go digital as digital frequencies are already in the air.

Here is what to do:

    • Learn as much as possible about digital Migration. A good place to start is the Digital Kenya website.
A set top box

A set top box

 

  • You will need a set top box to watch Digital TV. You can get a free to air digital box that you make no monthly payments whatsoever, just like buying a DVD player. With Signet’s broadcasting, many of the channels you are currently watching on your TV will be available. You don’t have to get Pay TV (Star Times, GoTv) but you can get decoders from these companies that are also free-to-air, no monthly payments. Here is a list of CCK-approved set top boxes for your selection. Be prepared.
  • When the ruling is given on February 6th, whether to postpone till the final deadline (June 2015) or whether CCK will set new dates yet again, digital TV is really for your benefit as an end consumer. The current “analog” TV stations are the ones who will suffer losses, but as an end consumer, digital TV will enable you to have clearer signals, access to more channels and content etc only by purchasing a set top box. Don’t do it for the government, do it for yourself.
  • If you are already using Zuku TV (cable TV) or DSTv (satellite) you are already on digital TV. Forget that misinformed Business Daily article that said viewers of Zuku and DSTv need new decoders. You have nothing to worry about, continue enjoying digital TV
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