The #DigitalMigration must go on!


ditigalThe deadline for the digital migration is vast approaching on the 17th of June 2015. The migration from analogue broadcasting to digital migration has been going on around the world. In Kenya the migration was supposed to happen on the 13th of December 2013 then on the 26th of December. But the 3 main major media stations contested the digital migration process in court and the process was halted. With the court battles finally over the digital migration was finally to happen on the 31st of December 2014. The Communications Authority of Kenya and ICT ministry finally resolved the issue with the media owners after they were given distribution licenses.

At the 11th hour though the 3 media houses were still in court trying to postpone the digital migration. The Communications Authority was still able to carry out the digital migration that saw Nairobi go digital when the analogue broadcast was stopped at midnight. Most people having gotten information on the digital migration already had their set top boxes and pay TV decoders so they migrated without any problems. Pay TV providers like GOtv who had a caravan going round the city talking about the digital migration got a lion’s share of new subscribers as they came loaded with gifts as people had a chance to win with #digitikanaGOtv. Others like Startimes, Zuku and new entrant into the market Bamba TV were not left behind as the scramble for new subscribers before the deadline went into high gear.

January 5th the court allowed the 3 media stations to keep broadcasting on the analogue broadcasting. This has been seen as unfair competition by the other media stations as now the three stations NTV, Citizen TV, and KTN are able to broadcast both on the analogue and digital platforms while the others are totally on the digital platform.

The 3 media stations have constantly played themselves as the underdogs which is funny because since the beginning when the digital migration was announced they have been part of the process. They have had years to prepare for the digital migration but sadly they do not seem to be ready. When given a chance a couple of years ago to bid for one of the licenses their infighting and lack of co-operation made them lose out on the license.

They have since been fighting to get individual licenses. Considering that the migration was to take place on the 13nth of December 2013 and it is a year down the line it makes no sense for them to say that they need extended time that they are not ready. What were they doing for that one year? Let’s not forget the previous years. Why were they going to court if they did not have an overall strategy to be ready?

Many stakeholders including the Communications Authority of Kenya, the pay TV providers, and suppliers of set top boxes have invested millions of shillings to make the digital migration possible. They have spent money not just on the set top boxes but on communications materials to create information on the digital migration and where to find the equipment. This situation is also not good as the digital migration time approaches.

Early migration was supposed to give the Communications Authority of Kenya time to sort out any potential issues with the migration. Now Kenya does not have the luxury of time. Even a country like Tanzania which is usually behind Kenya in terms of technological development has already migrated. The Tanzanian migration was not without its problems which is why the Communications Authority had wanted to do it in good time so that it would have time to sort out any bugs in the system. Now with time running out it may not be possible to do that.

Digital migration offers Kenyan great benefits including clear picture and availability of more channels. It also forces our local media stations which have had a monopoly on content to innovate. It has been frustrating to have to watch Mexican and Pilipino soaps during the nights and Nigerian soaps during the days. Just like KTN changed the landscape of Kenyan TV when they came in as the first private channel on TV so does the digital migration bring a chance for innovation and great content on TV which is not currently available (apart from a few local Kenyan shows).

Now Kenyans will have a chance to choose from more programs across the digital broadcast spectrum as new players will also be coming in. The three major media stations will have to evolve to give viewers better content or become obsolete like KBC whose only advantage was its reach which now with digital migration may also become a dinosaur if it also does not become innovative in its programming.

The second phase of the digital migration will be on the 2nd February 2015. It will cover Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kakamega, Kisii, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyahururu (Nyadundo), Machakos, Narok and Loldiani (Rongai). The third and final phase will take place on 30th March 2015 and shall cover Garissa, Kitui, Lodwar, Lokichogio, Kapenguria, Kabarnet, Migori, Voi (Vuria), Mbwinzau/Kibwezi, Namanga and all other remaining sites.

If you are looking to get a set top box for the digital migration check out this link.

You can also get any answers you need on the digital migration here.

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Managing editor and blogger at Potentash. Passionate about telling African stories. Find me at [email protected]