This morning, February 2, Kenya’s communications regulator, CCK has announced that it has shut down six broadcast transmitters in four different sites or locations of the country in a move to clean out stations running on unauthorized frequencies and without the required licences saying it a blatant breach of the law.
6 Shut Down, 11 To Be Shut In Days
According to Francis W. Wangusi, CCK’s Director-General, ” The 17 transmitters in question are being operated using self-assigned or ‘grabbed’ frequencies. Indeed, some of the transmitters are located in non-designated broadcasting sites thus causing harmful interferences to duly licensed services including broadcasters, aviation, and other critical services.”
He said the illegal transmissions are causing interferences in neighbouring countries, eliciting complaints from regulators in the region and licensed broadcasters in Kenya as the services of some of the licensed broadcasters have been rendered completely inoperable.
All Run By Royal Media Services
The six transmitter stations shut belong to Kenya’s Media giant Royal Media Services and were in Narok, Nakuru, Mukuyuni (in Ukambani) and Mabrui (Malindi). The six are part of the 17 unauthorized transmitter stations that the Commission issued a 30-day notice on 3rd December 2012 directing Royal Media Group to shut them down or face the law but CCK adds that Royal Media Services continued to run without word.
CCK says it shall shut down the remaining 11 illegal stations in a few days so as players in the broadcasting and ICT players operate within the law.
Wangusi added that the safety of our airspace is also under threat as the illegal transmitter stations interfere with radio communication between pilots and the control tower making even Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and Kenya Airways complain about it. The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), was also concerned on the erection of transmitters without meeting the requirement for environmental impact assessment.
No Place In Our Country
The CCK, charged with regulating the communications in the country says such ‘grab up’ of frequencies has no place again in the country and the shut down takes the message home.
CCK says it has no bone to pick with Royal Media Services apart from the 17 illegal transmitter stations that they are moving in to shut and the regulator adds that between 2008 and 2012 Royal Media Services assigned itself frequencies for 22 FM and 2 TV stations illegally. In May 2012 the Commission sent notice to Royal Media Services to stop acquiring frequencies illegally and close stations not licensed by the regulator.
Where Thou Art Watchman
But concerned tax payers wonder where the CCK was when Royal Media Services was acquiring this frequencies when it is the body entrusted with licensing. CCK defends itself quick, the body says it was stopped by courts from taking any action before the hearing of the Royal Media Services appeal. CCK adds that its confident the judiciary shall move first on the case.
According to Wangusi, the CCK has unsuccessfully tried to engage Royal Media Services to cease grabbing spectrum. CCK in 2006, after consultations with the relevant government organs, regularized a total of 67 FM and 10 TV frequencies that Royal Media Services had acquired in the same manner between 2002 and 2006 believing the broadcaster would cease using unauthorized frequencies and deploying transmitters in non-designated broadcasting sites but Royal Media Services did not stop.
CCK says it not switching off any frequencies assigned legally to the media firm or any other licensed media firms nor those subject to court cases but only those that Royal Media Services has assigned itself against the law.
The regulatory body is not moving on its own, but the “matter has been a subject of debate in parliament in light of the grave implications of use of unauthorized spectrum to the safety and integrity of our airspace, and protection of investments in the ICT sector.”
You can read the full list of radio frequencies here.