CCK changes policy for digital TV converters for affordability reasons

Set-top box prices are set to drop by at least 40 percent after the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) changed the minimum specification that allows importation of the equipment supporting free-to-air channels.

The cost of exclusive free-to-air set-top- boxes is expected to drop from the current KSh8,000 (US$ 95.02) to K Sh4,600 (US$ 54.63 ) per gadget as soon as the traders will start importing cheaper set-top boxes.

This is a major boost to the Kenyan government as it spearheads the process of migrating from analogue to digital television before the end of this year.

The new policy permits the CCK to import set-top boxes on Digital Broadcast Technology (DVB-T2).The device can access both pay and free-to-air channels.

CCK has scrapped the Conditional Access feature that enables a subscriber to control what to view. The equipment’s installation fee is approximately KSh3,360 (US$40).

Policy vendors will now import two types of set-top boxes consisting of the less advanced gadget which access to Free to Air channels such as NTV, KTN, Citizen and K24 and the both free and premium channels that is a bit expensive, reports say.

In January 2007, Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki officially launched television migration from analogue to digital and set 2012 as the deadline.

The president noted that digital televisions in the country would facilitate better image and sound clarity in addition to data broadcasting. This will lead to interactive communication that will result to innovation and creativity increase in the industry.

Kibaki requested the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the ministry of Information and Communications to offer tax relief on set top boxes to make it easily affordable.

Ministry of Information’s permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said the digital signal is now accessible in all the major towns in Kenya and is set for roll out across the country, at least by above 80 percent coverage, by the end of 2012.

The International Telecommunication Union Regional Radio communications Conference (RRC-06) recommends a 2015 deadline for analogue signals across the world.

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