Digital migration will force innovation in media industry


innovationThe Kenyan digital migration process was to be concluded in March this year. Exciting things have happened since the beginning of the digital migration. Leaving alone the side shows of the big 3 media houses switching themselves off and coming back with a bang. What’s up with them reminding us all the time that they were back? Some people really cared but some well let’s just say we didn’t notice you were gone most of the time.

One of the most contentious issues of the digital migration was on the must carry principle that started in the US when cable TV was started. Basically this rule was to ensure that public interest through the citizens’ access to television channels such as national public television channels, as well as the private television channels. The distinct fear was that the obligation would only be imposed if the TV or radio networks were the main ways in which a significant number of the population received their television channels. In the case of Digital Terrestrial TV broadcasting in Kenya, BSDs are the principal means receiving television channels for a significant number of consumers.

The use of fair dealings comes in when discussing copyright. The law of copyright is not set in absolute terms, but is subject to exceptions and limitations catering for certain interests. In this case it was argued that it would be fair dealing for the public interests for the must carry principle to be effected. The content of the TV stations and radio stations in Kenya was being aggregated and not altered in any way. Therefore the must carry principle would not amount to copyright infringement.

I have complained before that the media stations had too much Nigerian and Mexican content. To which two people I know from Citizen Media group told me I am not the target audience. I wish I could say I caught feelings but I was too busy watching movies and series on my laptop. They had lost me so I didn’t feel it when they were off air after all they didn’t care about me why should I care about them. By the way I would love to see a media station outside of the cable stations that caters to the A – B segment of society. KTN started out that way but along the way I don’t know what happened. Most of the great Kenyan productions are on Cable on DSTV and Zuku and this content cannot be accessed by the kawaida mwananchi.

There were people who cared about the blackout like my Mum who was forced to watch KBC news (the horror) and K24 news. Life was never the same. KBC I think needs to engage a strategy consultant to help them revamp their whole way of broadcasting. I have to say that although I don’t watch Citizen much I tend to watch their shows between 7:30 pm and 8 pm when I have the time except Naswa which needs a whole post to explain why I detest that show.

One of the things I am happy about in that regard is the Communications Authority’s strategic decision that by 2018 we should have at least 60% local content on our TV stations. One of the great things about that is that the digital migration will live up to its promise of creating new jobs. There will be jobs created for script writers, actors, directors and other creative entrepreneur. This I hope will allow content from all over Kenya to be shown. Local content of course does not only cover comedy shows, news, and series which are currently being shown. This will be a chance for reality shows, documentaries, Kenyan movies, etc to be made and shown to the local and regional market. You will be shocked to know that Vioja Mahakamani is popular in Tanzania for example. The other day there were Riverwood awards and this is the time to encourage creatively on our movie industry. There are so many stories to be told, African legends to be explored.

As a creative and somebody who wants the industry to grow I am looking forward to the growth of the creative industry in Kenya. Digital migration has many benefits to all consumers and to the country as a whole. I look forward to seeing the coming developments after we have all gone digital.

For more information on the Digital migration check out Communications Authority of Kenya’s website

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