Continued Resistance By Three Media Houses Reversing Digital Migration Gains


Following the Supreme Court
ruling on Friday 13 that
directed that digital migration
takes place as scheduled by the
Communications Authority of
Kenya, the Authority moved fast
to implement the same by
issuing a statement calling on all
broadcasters that were still
broadcasting on analogue to
switch to digital broadcasting
latest midnight in compliance
with the ruling.

Predictably, Africa Digital
Networks representing KTN, NTV
and Citizen in a rejoinder
accused the Authority of
selectively applying the ruling on
the dispute. As a result, the
three aforementioned media
houses continue to broadcast on
analogue whereas other 8
broadcasters have already
complied and switched off their
analogue broadcasts as per the
phase 1 and 2 schedule.

In their defence, the three media
houses claim this action will
plunge 90% of the viewers into
darkness. This is misleading
given the fact that uptake of set
top boxes has been on the rise
since the Communication
Authority announced plans for
the phased analogue switch off.
Over 700,000 out of 1.2 million
households in Nairobi alone today
access digital television using
type approved set top boxes and
will therefore not be affected by
the analogue switch off.

The three media houses seem to
have exhausted their tactics to
further delay this transition,
initial arguments for their non-
compliance was based on cost of
set top boxes which have since
dropped considerably between
1,700 and 4,000 depending on the
model of choice. The three later
opted for a lengthy court process
that resulted in their award for a
self-provisioning license, they
now want more time to import
their own set top boxes!

These delay tactics have worked
against them as what the three
media houses are most afraid of
is a drop in viewership numbers
that attracts advertising revenue.
Instead of injecting this energy in
developing competitive content
that will retain their viewership
numbers, they are fighting to
retain the status quo as they
stare at increased competition
from new broadcasters who have
already started their operations
and their viewership is growing.
Reality will soon dawn on the
three seeing that digital
migration will open grounds for
increased number of broadcast
television stations and no
particular broadcaster will claim
to be more superior than the
other in terms of coverage since
the digital television signal will
be uniform across all
broadcasters, therefore, audience
reach will be based on interesting
content that Kenyans will deem
relevant to them.

The growth in number of
television channels will see the
broadcasters share the spoils as
only those that invest in premium
content will attract a high
number of viewership and
therefore claim advertising
revenue. With the successful
migration, more broadcasters will
invest in the sector and upset the
status quo and only the fittest
will remain relevant.
Current analogue coverage
against digital coverage
Interestingly, the current
analogue signal coverage is way
lower than the 70% digital
television signal coverage as
covered by the two signal
distributors Signet and PANG, it
has only taken the two just over
3 years to surpass the analogue
transmission coverage and 100%
coverage in the country will soon
be achieved as they continue to
expand to beat the 3 phase
analogue switch off set for 30
March 2015.

Migrating to digital will also
significantly lower the cost of
setting up a broadcast station.
Unlike before where an investor
would have to erect transmission
masts across the country, what
one requires during the digital
era is to sign up with either
Signet or PANG who have already
set up the masts and effectively
reach similar audience as the
traditional media players.

This is a significant step towards
creating employment
opportunities for Kenyans who
will work in the broadcast
stations as well as creating
demand for content that will be
required to air across these
channels. Content developers will
have booming business as local
drama, series, comedy shows and
music find a ready market that
will absorb the audience through
the respective stations.
It is therefore important that as
a country, we do not continue to
be held at ransom by the
interests of just a few players at
the expense of national
development. There are enough
affordable type approved set top
boxes in the country and
individual stakeholders in the
sector are ready to see a smooth
transition from analogue to
digital broadcasting.

SOURCE : #Techweez.


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