Kenya: Consumer files complaint against Smart TV

Regulation & Policy

A consumer has filed a complaint against Next Generation Broadcasting (branded Smart TV) for selling obsolete television signals and exposing Kenyans to financial losses. The company has vigorously denied the charge, saying consumers will still be able to access a digital signal once the transition to DVB-T2 is complete.

In a letter to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), Florence Wangeci said the anti-graft body should investigate the pay television firm for selling banned television signals that will be obsolete once Kenya shifts from analogue to digital broadcasting. Ms Wangeci says KACC should probe the digital migration process and seek answers why the government has not taken action against the company.

Early this month, the Ministry of Information banned the importation and sale of television set top boxes based on the Digital Video Broadcasting –Terrestrial (DVBT1) due to technology shift and encouraged the next version, DVBT-2. “Vendors of equipment should cease with immediate effect any further importation and sale of the DVBT1 set top boxes hence forth, must comply with DVB-2 system specification now available from the Digital Kenya Secretariat,” said government when it announced the ban.

However, Smart TV continues to sell the receivers.  “The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission should protect the public from the said traders,” Ms Wangeci said in correspondence seen by the Business Daily.

However, Kenya Digital secretariat which is in charge of the implementation of the switch from analogue to digital said there is nothing wrong with Smart TV continuing to sell its set top boxes it brought in the country before the ban.

“There is nothing wrong with Smart TV selling its set to boxes as the country has not fully switched to the advanced technology which will happen on June 2012, ” said a source at the digital secretariat who declined to be named as he is not the official spokesperson.

The government has warned consumers against buying devices that are not compatible with the new digital platform. “Those who have already purchased are advised to continue using them until June 2012 when the country shall exclusively switch over to the DVBT2 platform in 2012, ” read the statement from the government.

However, Dan Kagwe, the Chief Executive of Next Generation Broadcasting, has dismissed Ms Wangeci’s allegations that consumers will lose their money by investing in the set top boxes.

“At a consumer level they can still be able to access the digital signals using our set top boxes and there is nothing wrong with that,” said Mr Kagwe. “Come 2012, what will happen is that set top boxes on the lower version will be able to read the channels on the superior platform,” he said.