The past week, the spotlight has been put on the Digital TV Migration debate after the CA (Communication Authority) withdrew the digital broadcast license that had been granted to Citizen, NTV (also QTV) and KTN.
This came after the Communications Authority found them guilty of airing a misleading infomercial which CA termed as both misleading and in violation of the legal and regulatory framework governing the sector. Standard Group, Nation Media Group, and Royal Media Services have come out fighting the decision which they see as handing broadcast control to experienced multinationals i.e. Pan African Networks Group and StarTimes.
It is in the interest of the Kenyan government that both local & foreign investors are accorded an enabling environment which will see their companies do well because it helps grow the Kenyan economy and creates jobs for the country’s citizens. Both and multinational companies should co-exist while competing favorably as opposed to being seen as bitter rivals who are eating into each other’s space. Recent insinuations that the multinationals operating in the digital broadcasting sector have undue advantage is meant rally Kenyans against the said multinationals while diluting their contribution in the country.
This choice in television viewing will grow tremendously once the country transitions to the digital television platform. Investors in the broadcast sector will no longer be required to set up capital intensive infrastructure across the country to reach the masses as the licensed broadcast signal distributors (Pan Africa Networks Group and Signet) have already put the requisite platforms in place.
What this means to the mwananchi is that very soon, there will be exponential growth in the number of television stations in Kenya some which will broadcast in various local dialects and genres as investors will only need to develop content and are dully hosted by either of the two licensed broadcast signal distributors while equally enjoying national reach similar to existing broadcast stations. It is this freedom of choice that is already being extended by the multinational broadcasters who have built a network to carry a multitude of channels that gives Kenyans a rich choice in television viewing at very affordable costs of acquiring the set top boxes.
This has also seen the introduction of both the Pay Television and Free to Air decoders ensuring the consumer can choose either to acquire a Pay or a free to view option depending on their television viewing preference. Kenyans who prefer to enjoy international content are free to acquire the Pay TV set top box whereas those who intend to continue enjoying free local channels in digital quality can acquire the free to air one. A lot of effort has gone into educating the public as to the difference between the two set top boxes to ensure the consumer is able to make an informed choice and acquire one that will meet their individual preference with the trends so far indicating the majority of Kenyans can differentiate between the two.
The multinationals in the broadcast sector have over the years equally encouraged technology transfer as more Kenyans learn from their Global experience and acquire world class expertise that is employed locally. This has seen engineers, system controllers and producers grow their know how and further build on the Kenyan expertise in the sector.
Employment creation is equally a significant contribution by the said broadcasters where thousands of Kenyans continue to build their careers as the companies grow their operations in the country. Their investment has equally established successful entrepreneurs thereby extending the gains beyond direct employment to supporting thriving businesses across the country.
It is undeniable that as a country, the broadcast sector has come a long way, it is therefore important to safeguard individual gains achieved so far while collectively attending to challenges faced in an effort to get the best from the opportunities within the sector.