Apparently, the Communications Commission of Kenya has awarded a third license to distribute Digital signals in Kenya to a consortium of local broadcasters after a sour relationship following the award of a second similar license to a Chinese firm ‘Pan African Network’. Initially, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) a state owned broadcaster through Signet had been mandated with a similar responsibility; however, thing fell apart after its controversial partnership with Smart TV; previously owned by Next Generation Broadcasting from Sweden and now owned by a Kenyan firm called Transmex Kenya ltd.
Digital signal distribution has not been as effective as previously thought with only Nairobi being covered by Smart TV. Kenya had set 2012 as its own deadline to have fully migrated from Analog broadcasting to Digital broadcasting, but court cases and counter accusations from local broadcasters have stalled the progress. The first digital signal distribution license was issued to KBC through Signet which currently has coverage in Nairobi and its environments; KBC later entered into a partnership with Smart TV which was mandated to distribute Set top boxes to consumers; apparently the local Media Owners Association (MOA) wasn’t happy at all, questioning KBC’s move.
The Communications Commission of Kenya assured MOA that it would not tender for the additional 3rd license, but were required to full fill all the requirements set out in the tender document which includes payment of $450,000 (Ksh.41 million) license fee. In addition, MOA is required to ensure that the digital signal distribution is on an open source platform with a national coverage. Kenya’s market is expected to migrate from analogue to digital by June 2012 according to the PS Bitange Ndemo who also indicated they had given KBC Ksh.4 billion to ensure that they attain at least 80 percent national coverage by June 2012.
Kenyan Broadcasters were impressed by the government’s gesture although challenged the government to address other challenges such as the cost of set top boxes. Kenyan TV market has become very competitive of late with Smart TV, Zuku TV and Dstv going head on despite their variant broadcasting platforms. It’s also expected the migration process will get back on track after major issues had been solved.