Kenya’s anti-piracy unit the Kenya Copyright Board (KCB) on Wednesday confiscated illegal DStv (Digital Satellite Television) equipment from various Nairobi estates ahead of the global digital TV migration deadline set for 2015.
Twenty-seven DStv smartcards, 25 decoders and 21 modulators were seized in an operation that targeted Tassia, Embakasi, South C, Fedha and Taj Mall estates.
The operation involved police aligned to KCB and officers from MultiChoice Kenya, the DStv network operator, following reports by the public of illegal DStv signal splitting.
Two of the suspects were arraigned in court yesterday and released on KSh1 million (US$11,790) and KSh 500,000 (US$5,887) bonds.
“This is the highest bond a Kenyan court has issued on a copyright infringement matter,” said Lucian Mue, a KCB official.
MultiChoice said it is satisfied with the fines. Commenting on the operation, MultiChoice Kenya’s general manager Danny Mucira said the company would continue working closely with the government agencies to track counterfeit items and prosecute those found guilty of piracy.
“We will continue to sensitise Kenyans on the demerits of illegal connections and the legal consequences of piracy, such as the lengthy jail terms or hefty fines,” said KCB official Marisella Ouma.
The set-top boxes (Digital Broadcast Technology — DVB-T2) support free-to-air channels.
According to CCK, the less advanced set-top boxes can only access free-to-air channels such as KBC, NTV, KTN, Citizen and K24, while both free and premium channels options connect to all channels but are more expensive.
HumanIPO earlier reported that theCommunications Commission of Kenya (CCK) would slash prices on the equipment by almost 40 percent.
Set-top box prices are expected to drop from the current KSh8,000 (US$95) to KSh 4,600 (US$55) as soon as traders begin importation of cheaper set-top boxes. One needs KSh3, 360 (US$40) for equipment installation.
In January 2007, Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki officially unveiled the digital migration plan, saying digital televisions would facilitate superior image and sound clarity in addition to data broadcasting leading to interactive communication.
Kibaki requested that the Ministry of Finance, in conjunction with the Ministry of Information and Communications, offer tax relief on set-top boxes to make them more affordable.
Aside from DStv, other pay TV service providers in Kenya include Zuku and Star Times.
The International Telecommunication Union Regional Radio Communications Conference (RRC-06) set 2015 as the deadline for digital migration across the world.