After a continuous court battle between Communications Authority and Africa Digital Network a consortium of media houses; Nation Media, Standard Group and Royal media, Supreme court ordered the regulatory body to consider issuance of self-provisioning signal distribution licences which thereafter commenced to allow the media houses to roll out digital signals countrywide.
On 21st January 2015, the Authority suspended the temporary authorization granted to Africa Digital Network Limited to roll out their self-provisioning digital signal distribution. The administrative action was due to a misleading advertisement carried by the media houses under the ADN umbrella from 16th to 20th January 2015 that implied Startimes and GOtv were illegally carrying their content thereby infringing on copyright and neighboring rights.
The advertisement went further to dissuade consumers from purchasing the set top boxes citing that they were the exclusive vendors of Free-To-Air set top boxes that could enable the public to view their channels. The affected pay Tv providers subsequently filed complaints with the Authority against the misleading adverts.
Upon review of the complaints, the authority raised concerns which led to the suspension of the temporary authorization among them emphasis on the misleading nature of the advertisement aired by the three media houses and also offensive to the market according to section 46 I (1) (i) of KICA, 1998 which states that; All licenced broadcasters shall ensure that advertisements, either in terms of content, tone or treatment are not deceptive to good taste.
The Authority also brought to the attention of the media houses that the sale of set top boxes in Kenya is a free market and consumers can purchase type-approved set top boxes from any vendor registered by the Authority. The media houses have also been accused of going against the law by refusing to air GOtv and Startimes digital migration related advertisements which has been termed anti-competitive.
The Authority’s Board of Directors has held deliberations on the matter and have agreed that the Authority shall lift suspension only if the consortium meets four conditions within (7) calendar days effect from 6th February 2015:
- That the Authority penalizes the three media houses for misleading advertisements. Considering that this is the first breach, a penalty of Ksh 500,000/- be imposed upon each of the media house.
- That the three media houses commit not to use their media platforms for selective and misleading advertisements including refusal to carry advertisement on digital migration.
- That the media houses commit not to engage in anti-competitive behavior and respect the laws and regulations governing competition in the ICT sector.
- That the three media houses are required to note and comply with the requirement for type-approval of all electronic equipment