Following the case filed by the Media Owners Association enjoining Consumer Federation of Kenya against Digital Migration, the High Court has extended the deadline for Analogue TV switch off date from December 13th to December 23rd. This extension is however temporal as the High Court may further extend the deadline if by 23rd the ruling about the case is not ready.
Media Owners Association and the rest of media fraternity have expressed reservations on the 13th deadline date citing issues such as the availability of STBs and those surrounding provision of license for digital signal transmission that has been awarded to StarTimes operator as critical to the switch off. Consumer Federation wants the STBs to be cheaper than the current pricing, saying that the switch off will lock out most Kenyans from TVs.
Both parties are seeking the extension of the deadline to June 2014 arguing that the switch off will make TVs be a preserve of the rich. To make sure that most Kenyans do not have the STBs by the 13th deadline date, the mainstream media houses have given Digital TV Kenya a media blackout leading to most Kenyans not having proper information on how the Analogue TV Switch off will affect them.
It is good for the media houses that at least they have received some form of good news from the court. If however the analogue signals were switched off by 13th December and only 175,000 households out of 8.5 million had the STBs, the mainstream media could have lost a lot in revenue.
I do not think that giving Digital TV Kenya a blackout really serves the mainstream media any good. The deadline of the switch off will have to come whether the media likes it or not. The world deadline is due in 2015 and next year just makes that global deadline only one year away. If they continue fighting Digital Migration, at the end of the day they stand to lose a lot. As a country they are also making watering down our reputation that has scored pretty well in the Digital Tech sectors. This reputation should be upheld.
Given that the switch off is inevitable, the mainstream media should run promotional programs encouraging Kenyans to accept Digital Migration and even sponsor programs that will make it easy for consumers to purchase the STBs. For instance Pay TVs e.g. StarTimes and GoTV could enable Kenyans to acquire decoders freely but they recoup their investment from monthly subscriptions or payment via installment. If such a program was running ever since we started hearing of Digital Migration back in 2011, we could have had over 80% of households having the STBs but only waiting for the switch off date.
I do hope that we are hearing the last of an extension of the deadline. We really need to move on with technology otherwise we’ll be caught in a situation where the world is moving to a new TV transmission technology when are rolling out the Digital Transmission Programme.