Kenya: NGB about to launch new PayTV


Kenya, like a few other countries in Africa has embarked on a migration process from the current analogue TV broadcasting to digital transmission. This process was marked by the launch of the digital terrestrial TV switch on signal conducted by
President Mwai Kibaki last December 2009 and is expected to be completed by 2012.

Paul Wafula from Daily Nation on the web reported on 14 November 2010 that “Next Generation Broadcasting AB” (NGB) will launch a new pay TV service next month in Kenya in a move that is set to upset the local television landscape.

NGB, a Swedish firm, says it has finalised the process after testing frequencies since June. Branded Smart TV, the service will use Kenya Broadcasting Corporation's digital platform to reach customers.

"We have finalised agreements with a host of local and international channels that will be part of our pay TV offering to enable us to launch it commercially. We already have a clear signal and consumers can now buy set top boxes. They will have free viewing until end of the year, a period we believe is long enough for them to sample our channels and give us feedback on our content and quality," said NGB Kenya CEO Daniel Kagwe.

Subscribers will part with Sh. 5,000 to receive a decoder and pay KS990 for a one month subscription bouquet of eight channels including BBC World News, Fox Entertainment, Showtime for Hollywood movies, and Setanta for sports The other channels on offer include HiNolly for Nollywood movies, KidsCo - a children's channel, Star TV for Hollywood gossip, and the MTV Base Music channel.

"Monthly subscription will be Sh990. Consumers will have several payment options including mobile money transfers, scratch cards and bank deposits. We have also enlisted several dealers to facilitate this," said Kagwe. However, the project was rocked by controversy during its initial testing period after some local players were opposed to its use of KBC infrastructure.

"KBC is a public broadcaster and its duty is to assist everybody to host their channels on a digital platform to make it easy for Kenyan's to transform from analogue to digital. It is not exclusive to NGB and anybody can use it," added Kagwe.

The company has similar operations in Ghana and Uganda, offering both post and prepaid digital terrestrial TV services. "There is a huge potential out there for pay TV channels and we intend to extend our current 100km radius to cover all major towns in Kenya.

According to NGB, Smart TV's bouquet of channels uses the latest digital TV technology, MPEG 4. The technology has already been adopted by KBC and is approved by the Communications Commission of Kenya.

NGB Kenya customers will also access all the free to air local channels such as KBC, NTV, KTN, STV, Citizen TV, Family TV and K24 among others in digital quality without the need for a satellite dish or an extra set top box.