[kictanet] Digital TV Migration

robert yawe robertyawe at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Dec 19 12:26:20 EAT 2010


Who says our civil servant executives can't hold their own against those in 
private sector, thank you Dr. Ndemo for clarifying this issue the Nation article 
had made it seem that the government was playing favourites.

Robert Yawe
KAY System Technologies Ltd
Phoenix House, 6th Floor
P O Box 55806 Nairobi, 00200

Tel: +254722511225, +254202010696

From: "bitange at jambo.co.ke" <bitange at jambo.co.ke>
To: robertyawe at yahoo.co.uk
Cc: KICTAnet ICT Policy Discussions <kictanet at lists.kictanet.or.ke>
Sent: Fri, 17 December, 2010 16:06:24
Subject: Re: [kictanet] Digital TV Migration

Below please find my response to a recent article on Digital Migration.  I
am sadly told that a major media house could not publish it thus denying
me the right of reply as mandated in the Media Act, 2007.  Gladly other
media houses, that is, the Star and People Daily published it.  I thought
the Bill of Rights was meant for everybody but now it is clear.


Migration from analogue to digital broadcast on right course
Bitange Ndemo

The opinion article on the new broadcasting regime in the country entitled
‘Giving frequencies to foreigners wrong’ in the Daily Nation of Wednesday
December 11 was, to say least ill informed, premised as it was on wrong
assumptions. The author either knowingly or out of ignorance, created the
impression that the Government’s decision to fast track migration from
analogue to digital broadcasting is fraught with anomalies. Far, from this
erroneous viewpoint, the opposite is in fact true. It is therefore
important that the misinformation that could inadvertently mislead the
sector and the public be set straight at the earliest opportunity.
It is an indisputable fact that broadcasting the world over is going
digital with the deadline for digital migration set for June 2015. While
this deadline is the absolute upper limit for the change over, many
regions of the world have already made the switch and Kenya is determined
to be on the cutting edge of these new technologies by 2012. It is for
this reason that, two years ago, the Government created the Digital
Transitional Committee (DTC) with able representation of Media Owners. The
Committee has held several consultative meetings whose minutes are well
documented. It is therefore either ignorant or malicious for the author to
claim that the Digital Terrestrial Television matters have not been
Indeed, it is the Committee that came up with a framework for
implementation of the digital migration and recommended that the
Government creates a migration vehicle leading to the creation of Signet
as a subsidiary of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
During one of the documented meeting of the DTC, members grappled with the
challenge of the slow pace of analogue to digital migration. As redemptive
action, the Committee recommended that existing broadcasters take up more
channels at a cost while KBC was encouraged to open doors for investors on
the platform. Indeed, some of the TV broadcasters operating today are
themselves beneficiaries of similar decisions in the past.
In addition, the committee urged the Private sector to create a new
competing platform to facilitate speedy migration.  The intent was to
enhance delivery of local content to attract Kenyans to migrate. Claims
that the media has not been involved in the process are therefore either
insincere or motivated by other ulterior factors.
During the past one year of piloting the digital platform, local
broadcasters did not honour an agreement for development of new, local
content as the main enticer for viewers to migrate. Nonetheless, the
Government, understanding that frequencies are a national resource, is
keen to see how they can be leveraged for development, particularly
creation of jobs in the media industry.
The article sanctimoniously laments the Ministry’s failure “to entrench
frequencies licensing and allocation regime into law”. Well, media owners
have themselves to blame given that one of their own went to court to
challenge the new broadcast regulatory and legal framework and with court
granting an injunction, the matter remains in abeyance until a verdict is
reached. The media owners can therefore not blame the Government for the
unfortunate situation where there is no single licensed broadcaster in
Kenya toady.
The article seems to suggest that KBC has engaged in fraudulent business
practices in licensing Smart TV and this seems to be the source of the
author’s indignation. An analysis of facts would reveal the opposite. The
Kenya Broadcasting Act allows the corporation to enter into business
partnerships.  Indeed KBC owns 40 per cent of DSTV, a pay TV channel and
has a mutually beneficial contractual agreement with K24, and Kiss TV. 
There is therefore nothing out of the ordinary for KBC to go into a
business arrangement Smart TV.  Indeed, KBC has no partnership agreements
with local broadcasters other than the fact that they were requested to
bring in content to be broadcast simultaneously with their analogue
frequencies for free while the platform was being piloted.
The broadcast sector should indeed brace itself for competition given that
the Signet platform will eventually create more than 600 channels.  Many
of these channels will be on free to air (accessed without pay) and with
at least 40 per cent local content.  As soon as the court matter is
settled, the content regulations will be enforced. This is already the
case in developed countries where thousands of channels have sprung up
riding on new technologies. The ground has literally shifted and broadcast
players ought to take cognizance of this and accept that the digital march
is irreversible.
A major contention of the article is that copy right would be infringed
on; this is a contradiction in terms.  Any set top box can access all free
to air channels and indeed all broadcasters shall be required to have at
least one free to air channel.  It is therefore not correct to state that
poor people will not access TV once they buy a set top box.  The article
is indeed a pointer to the fact that content will be a major determinant
of success in broadcasting but at the same time it will be a major source
of contention.
Given recent development in the broadcast sector which the article quotes,
it is clear that the industry is intent on venting off competition.
However, the Government will not sit on its laurels as cartels or
monopolies in broadcast content that run counter to the letter and spirit
of the constitution get entrenched. In furtherance of the bill of rights
in the new constitution, we seek to uphold the principle that any Kenyan
of sound mind and means shall be given opportunity to broadcast.  The
technology accords us the means to accommodate as many broadcasters as
possible, save issues such as national security and quality.  Indeed it is
along these policy lines that we have reserved at least one channel for
every county.

Dr Ndemo is the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and

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