Kenya in digital TV migration stalemate as regulator meeting is snubbed

Talks aimed at setting a proper date for analogue television broadcasting switchoff between the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) yesterday failed to take off, heralding a fresh spell of disagreements.

Cofek, Kenya’s consumer advocacy group, snubbed the meeting for the reason that the CCK, the communications regulator, had sought the involvement of outside parties contrary to court orders. This comes after the High Court earlier this month suspended the analogue TV broadcasting switchoff until after the March 2013 general elections.

The court had further asked the two to agree on a suitable date after the elections. Cofek was said to have registered its first win against the CCK after managing to delay the digital migration protesting it would disrupt voter education and sensitisation.

Presently, less than 10 percent of TV-owners have acquired the digital TV set-top boxes needed to access digital signals. All digital platforms require monthly subscription, with GoTV, which broadcasts the SIGNET platform by the government, retailing the highest at just under KSh5,000 (approx. US$58).

The high cost of the set-top boxes has been heavily criticised as poised to lock out millions of Kenyans in a country where 50 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Critics observe that stalemate between Cofek and CCK could see the negotiation window close leaving the fate of TV consumers to the court.

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