Suit after suit, appeal after appeal is the new song Kenya is singing to the digital migration. Not so long ago, viewers were treated to a good serving of infomercials against StarTimes and GOtv by media houses under the African Digital Network; Nation Media Group, standard group and Royal media services.
Today, the media houses are singing a different song of possible media muzzling from the Communications Authority of Kenya. The media houses have been slapped with a fresh law suit following the infamous advertisement that has been said to be misleading to the public where the regulator has cited legality of the foreign channels airing local content.
The media houses have defended the advert termed misleading as an educative piece to help the audience differentiate between ‘pay television’ and ‘Free to Air TV’ as well caution them against being duped into buying pay set top boxes.
The media houses will also suffer revocation of a temporal digital broadcasting license issued late last year allowing them to have their own digital distribution platform instead of having their content aired through the foreign-owned firms. Even so, the media consortium has promised not to stop at anything until they seek justice which might be as far as going to the International Intellectual Property Court in Paris.
In a fresh media contest, the houses have cited irregular distribution of frequencies with the foreign digital distributor (PANG) getting a big chunk of the country’s frequencies which is 120 out of all 197 frequencies which equals 61 per cent of the country’s digital television broadcasting frequencies. KBC and GoTV on the other hand have been allocated 51 frequencies which represents 26 per cent, Radio Africa 11, accounting for six per cent and local companies Nation Media, Standard Group and Royal Media sharing 5 per cent of the frequencies which equals only 10 frequencies.
The chinese company PANG already transmits frequencies in 51 locations out of all 56 locations which presents CAK as partisan to foreign companies in the transition to digital migration broadcasting. In a letter by the regulator dated December 3, 2014 Communication Authority sort consent from the content providers to broadcast their programmes which means the three media houses are no longer in the ‘must carry’ list and therefore GOtv and StarTimes have no right to air their programmes as it is.
African Digital Network consortium has expressed discontent by the regulator which has used the digital license issued less than a month ago as a weapon against the media houses instead of pulling out the particular advertisement. License denial will mean job loses for journalists as well as revenue loss since they invest in producing content only for the pay TV providers to air it without seeking permission.
On the other hand the regulator has halted the process to issue them with a self-provisioning license until it makes a determination following the advertisement in what they call abuse of dominance. Well, citizens look forward to the day digital migration will mean well.