Kenya: Local Broadcast Set to Go Digital

Technology & Convergence

The Government has said the broadcasting industry is expected to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting by 2015. This means that television and radio gadgets in the market would be obsolete with time. Therefore the Government has warned the local media industry of attempts by foreign companies to dump analogue broadcasting equipment. Information minister, Mr Mutahi Kagwe, said the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) had stopped issuing frequencies for analogue television broadcasting to prepare the country for digital technology.

Addressing a news conference, Kagwe said migration to a digital platform would require policy and regulatory change. He launched an 11-member taskforce to facilitate the switchover and setting up of a migration implementation strategy. The taskforce is expected to come up with policy and regulatory framework for migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Kagwe said digitisation would enhance electronic transfer of sound and video and improve broadcast transmission quality. "Since digital technology makes it possible for one frequency channel to accommodate more than one programme, a multiplex operator is necessary in the market structure to provide capability for multi-programmes within frequency channel, so that many broadcasters can share the frequency channel," he said.

Kenyans will, however, not need to dispose of their current television sets, as they could buy a set top box to convert digital transmission into analogue form that can be discerned by the equipment. Taskforce chairman, Daniel Obam, said analogue sets would be obsolete in the long run.

"The multiplex operators will be required to provide services to licensees in a non-discriminatory basis. It is evident that by virtue of its disposition, KBC qualifies as a multiplex operator. However, the two other entities would be licensed to offer the infrastructure," Kagwe said. This means the broadcasters would concentrate on developing broadcast content and not manning their transmission infrastructure. Kagwe said the ongoing installation of a fibre broadband would converge with the broadcast digitisation to reduce the cost of Internet services. "It will become a platform for delivery of services such as e-government, e-health and e-education," said Kagwe.

East Africa Standard