Kenya’s communications industry regulator the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has extended the deadline for the analogue to digital TV switchover to April 2013, from the previous deadline of the end of this year.
The extension, according to the CCK, is supposed to allow for the prices of set-top boxes to conform to policy changes.
The set-top boxes, which convert analogue TV signals to digital, are currently retailing at a price of between KSh6000 (US$75) to KSh9000 (US$112). CCK targets a price of KSh3,000, which will guarantee 40 percent of Kenya’s population coverage once the lights go dark on analogue TVs.
“There is need to give time for several government policy interventions meant to bring down the prices of set-top boxes to have an impact on the market. Denying any viewer access to information would be acting against the Constitution,” CCK director general Francis Wangusi told the Business Daily Africa.
A recent move by the government to offer free set-top boxes hit a snag when it became clear that it lacked data on the number of television sets in the country.
According to Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary at Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication, the big challenge will be how to identify those with TV sets that were not registered in the first place.
Kenya is set to be the second African country after South Africa to attempt digital migration. This will honour the International Telecommunications Union’s (ITU’s) set global deadline for analogue television switch off for June 2015 in UHF band and 2020 for VHF band.
South Africa’s digital migration efforts have however been called to reality with court cases as well as set-top box prices causing a major headache.
Digital TV is set to herald a new age of broadcasting. Along with quality TV picture, digital TV will have more channels, transmit digital radio through TV and feature on-screen TV listings.
The year 2012 has been “a cleanup year” for the communications regulators with the recent sweep of the broom brushing against the mobile industry. Close to 2.5 million illegal phones were switched off by October 1 in a highly publicized ‘Fake phone switch-off’ campaign.