Digital Migration Kenya: Have we lost the freedom to access unbiased information?

Digital Migration is on and with it comes foreign and government control. The media houses have made a lot of noise in the recent past regarding the way government has handled digital migration. As opposed to other countries like the US that switched off the analogue signal after almost every TV owner had a acquired the Set Top Boxes, having postponed the switch off date twice because the people had not acquired the STBs (they actually provided up to two free coupons each worth $40 for households to buy the STBs; the STBs were selling for between $40 and $80 each), our government on the other hand has switched off the analogue signal when hardly 10% of Nairobians and 0.2% nationwide have the STBs.

This is not the only undoing by the government. From now on our radio waves for transmission and reception of information on TVs is in the hands of two bad guys; the government (Signet) and Chinese (PANG). A government with powers and ability to directly control radio waves and censor broadcast content is the worst that could have happened to a young democracy like Kenya. One would only want to remember the good old days of KBC-VoK-KBC monopoly; the days when if one had to own a radio or TV then he/she had to acquire a permit from KBC. Those days, I hear, news content had to be approved by State House before broadcast.

Imagine this: KTN has its Jicho Pevu series against Kenya Police and drug trafficking. In the series they have mentioned names and numbers – dates and events. They have identified who said what and where and to who. They have even included some footage secretly captured during the underground investigations. Then they give this programme to KBC to air.

The other bad guy with control of our radio waves is PANG, a Chinese company that operates StarTimes, also a content creator. These guys, apart from being a competition as content creators, also come from a country that is well known to be against media freedom.

Similarly, imagine a documentary that has been compiled by e.g. NTV on “Dangers of Looking East.” How free will PANG broadcast this content? Or imagine a progamme on “Complains against StarTimes” (there have been many complains…I personally at one time had to give away my StarTimes decoder to a friend after being dissatisfied by their services), do you think PANG (StarTimes) will without grudge broadcast such content?

Haven’t we just lost the freedom of access to unbiased information with this Digital Migration Kenya Programme?


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