Court Approves Analogue signal switch-off in Nairobi, Petition Dismissed

A Nairobi court has maintained the date for digital migration in Nairobi county, Media owners had contested the effective 23rd December 2013 citing high costs of set-top boxes and fundamental rights within the constitution. During the ruling, the judge indicated he had no intentions to stall the migration process saying the concerned parties had enough time to prepare. The judge further cited the fact that Kenya had signed an international treaty to migrate from low quality analogue transmission to digital migration, Kenya’s constitution explicitly affirms that any international treaty that Kenya enters into forms part of the Kenyan laws.

‘Businesses have to align and respond to changes’ Justice Majanja further added, acknowledging the changes broadcasters will have to make and investments needed in the process of migration. In his ruling, the judge indicated CCK was in-line to issue licenses and that it was not in breach of the constitution. The petition was dismissed. The local Media association in Kenya was seeking a 5year transition period in which Kenyans were to be educated on the migration process as well as being given enough time to buy set-top-boxes. Justice Majanja was quick to point out the case was self serving since all the stake holders were involved in the process. Media houses had sort to have both analogue and digital signals to run side-by-side.

Muite who was acting on behalf of the petitioner presented a new petition asking for a further 30 day grace period before the migration was implemented, however, the move was opposed with lawyers indicating Muite was supposed to present a formal petition and that what he wanted was a delay, a delay and a delay. Other petitions involving infringement of content were also dismissed. in a surprise move, the petitioner had presented various allegation on the top two service providers – Startimes and Gotv, saying the later involved Dstv’s intention to cover the entire country while Startimes was alleged to be insolvent, however, Justice Majanja found the allegations unsubstantiated and dismissed them altogether.

Media houses had further alleged to loose millions in form of advertising revenue if the government went ahead with the switch-off. Digital migration was scheduled to begin on 13th of December after both parties successfully agreed the date to be pushed beyond 12th of the same month as it was a national holiday and that Kenyans needed to watch the celebration events on their television sets. The date was further pushed until 23rd when the judgement was to be made.

Ruling on whether he should grant permission to delay the migration for 30 days waiting for the high court’s ruling, Justice Majanja said the petition was inconsequential as the successful application would mean petitioners will be allowed to broadcast in analogue format or be issued with a necessary license. He further added granting conservatory orders would underscore the developments so far and not in-line with previous meeting in which the date was agreed upon.


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