The Kenyan government is to float a tender for a third digital distribution licence, ending a protracted stalemate with the Media Owners Association (MOA) but putting them at odds with the view of the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK).
Speaking yesterday during a breakfast meeting between the CCK and licenced broadcasters in Nairobi, cabinet secretary at the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology Fred Matiangi said a third licence will be floated and local broadcasters will be given priority.
“We are going to give a third licence and it will be done in an open and transparent way, where local media owners will particularly be encouraged to participate,” he said.
The Media Owners Association (MOA) welcomed the move. In 2011, the CCK awarded Kenya’s digital signal distribution licences to PANG, a Chinese company, and Signet, a subsidiary of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).
The CCK, however, used the same forum to express its disagreement with the decision. The regulator previously said there was no provision for granting another licence and that media owners would have to wait until more spectrum was available.
“Even if we wanted to grant a third license to a signal distributor, it would not be possible because we do not have sufficient spectrum,” said CCK director general Francis Wangusi
Media owners said signal distribution should be done competitively and transparently.
“We are ready to go for another competitive process and to put our bids so that we can move forward,” said MOA chairman Kiprono Kittony.
“The right to owning a distribution licence is very sensitive and it is not proper to give four channels out of six to a foreign entity. There has to be local participation.”