So, the three media houses decided to make a comeback to the screens after 19 days of blacking out viewers across the nation, broadcasting their minimal news bulletin online and losing money in millions, which is not my concern just so to say.
The move follows an agreement deal reached between the media houses and the government earlier this week that allows them to broadcast in Nairobi – where they say they have completed installing infrastructure – on digital signals under their Africa Digital Network (ADN) license.
“But we can announce today that through our self-provisioning digital signal carrier consortium the Africa Digital Network Limited, we have now completed the installation of our digital signal distribution infrastructure around Nairobi,” reads part of the statement jointly signed by the three.
Set to be back at 6.50pm yesterday, March 5, 2015, the four TV stations did indeed resume broadcasting but not without reminding viewers what ‘presumably’ they had missed out on for the over two weeks the four were off-air.
I did not tune in at the said time so I would not speak for what happened then, apart of course from the dramatic set up that I ran into just next to the Tom Mboya statue outside the National Archives, where there was a screen and music playing alongside someone talking over the music – am not really sure what was going on thanks to the very big crowd gathering up.
I was however, able to watch the primetime news at 9.00PM and I have never been so patient to watch 15 minutes of nothing but a dramatic clip of KTN ensuring that viewers indeed recognized they were back. I say patient because I actually sat through the 15 minutes, even when I was so tired to even keep my eyes open.
And then it got worse when the news anchors kicked off the bulletin with a story of being off-air and how their being back on-air does not translate to their acceptance of the government’s ways of the digital migration saga. The declaration of a still unresolved migration was laid out in a whole statement with heavy emotions.
“Today, we are choosing to disappoint the shadowy forces to whom Digital Migration has been a pretext to subdue, weaken or altogether eliminate independent, privately-run television stations. To those forces we say, these broadcasters namely Citizen TV, QTV, KTN and NTV are here to stay and shall not cease to exist”.
And it continues to get more emotional as you read on, “Never before, since the liberalization of the country’s airwaves have television broadcasts been interrupted or subjected to a crisis of the proportions just witnessed. All this we sadly note, transpired in the name of Digital Migration, a process that we maintain, has grossly been mishandled and continues to be.
“We asked for more time so that we could roll out a countrywide network to distribute our signals, but those pleas have fallen on deaf ear.”
The stations will be provided for as free-to-air channels on the universal set-top boxes, and of course the Pay TV channels that brought about most of this fiasco Zuku and Startimes, among the others as the media houses carry on with their process to launch their free-to-air digital decoders.
“The matter of copyrights to our content and a guarantee of non-interference on our channels on Pay TV platforms remain particularly pertinent. We will continue pursuing a resolution to these and other outstanding issues in the best interest of our viewers, our journalism, our country and our business.”
And as the three would say, it was a difficult 19 days for innocent Kenyans so may this be the beginning towards restoration in faith for viewers who felt cheated.