by Caroline Vutagwa
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The Consumer Federation of Kenya recently organized a digital migration forum that brought together key digital television stakeholders including the Ministry of Information and Communication, Communication Authority, Digital Decoders Dealers Association, content developers and Digital Broadcasters Association of Kenya who deliberated on current challenges facing the analogue to digital broadcasting resolving to work together towards making the transition a reality.

During the forum, the decoder association noted that the continued delay in migrating to the digital platform had negatively affected their members investments where the majority had injected huge amounts of capital in their ventures only for the delay to lead to hesitation by Kenyans to acquire the type approved set top boxes thereby translating to huge losses.

The digital broadcasters association equally upheld the concern by their decoder counterparts noting that Kenyans have been deprived of increased choice in their television viewing options where through digital television signal, Kenyans should be enjoying up to 22 Standard Definition (S.D.) Channels in the same bandwidth that previously produced one Channel on the analogue platform but currently continue enjoying fewer channels due to the delayed migration and slow decoder uptake.

Stakeholders remained optimistic that the broadcast sector will continue to attract increased investment with the current prospects of growth. On its part, Pan African Network Group (PANG) one of the licensed broadcast signal distributors noted that the company has so far invested over Kshs. 6 Billion in three years since they were granted a B.S.D. license in October of 2011 and created over 700 employment opportunities for Kenyans.

This investment will complement the investment by the other media houses who have invested around Kshs. 40 Billion collectively thereby driving the broadcast sector in Kenya into a robust industry that will see all major stakeholders achieve their goal to drive access to information while availing entertaining and informative content across Kenyan households.

With the 1st and 2nd phases of the analogue switch off having kicked off on 30th December 2014 and 2nd February 2015 respectively, stakeholders were optimistic the rest of the country will effectively migrate to the digital platform during the scheduled 3rd phase expected to commence on 30th March 2015.

The forum called on Kenyans to acquire type approved set top boxes of their choice there being various options that they could consider including:

1)         a). Conditional Access (C.A.) – Pay TV Decoders

b). Free To Air (FTA) Decoders.

2)         a). Satellite Transmission Digital TV.

b). Cable Transmission Digital TV.

c). Internet Protocol (I.P.) Digital TV.

During the forum, participants noted that the country has more than 1.2 million set top boxes available in the market which will enable Kenyans enjoy enhanced viewership including access to:

Electronic Program Guide which will provide users with a friendly, easy to use way of watching programs where all programs are displayed and accessed easily,

  1. Multimedia Function where Movies, music, photos are accessible by use of external storage device such as flash discs.
  2. PVR Function – Allows program playback and time-shift play.
  3. HDMI Port – This interface gives a much clearer picture than traditional TV Systems.
  4. USB Port – Allows for automatic software upgrade as an alternative to upgrading software through the data broadcast server.
  5. Capable of high speed data broadcasting about stock quotes, ticketing, electronic newspapers and websites

Participants equally noted that the price of set top boxes had considerably dropped to an average of Ksh 4,000 for the free to air option and 1,700 for the pay television option thereby ensuring that the majority of Kenyans have access to digital television. With these developments, the country remains on the right track towards making digital television a reality in Kenya.

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