Kenya: StarTimes Media launches approved set top boxes

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Chinese digital pay-TV firm StarTimes Media on Tuesday launched its approved DVB–T2) free to air set top box in the Kenyan market.

The development would give an option to those who wish to have access to digital Free to Air channels without having to incur monthly subscription charges while still being able to upgrade to the Pay TV option without having to acquire another device.

StarTimes Media Kenya CEO Leo Lee expressed the firm's commitment in growing the broadcasting industry while enriching the viewing experience of the Kenyan people.

"Kenya becomes the flagship market for this device where we intend to ride on our 70 percent digital television network coverage in the country as we plan to extend reach of local channels under our platform to more Kenyans on both Pay TV and free to air offers thereby giving Kenyans an enviable choice," Leo told journalists in Nairobi.

The launch came as most Kenyans are not in a hurry to acquire set top boxes to enable them to migrate from analogue to digital TV signal. This is despite spirited efforts by the government to encourage citizens to buy the gadgets so that the country can smoothly transit to digital TV viewing.

Majority of citizens in areas that are already receiving digital TV signal, including the capital Nairobi, are seemingly not bothered by the migration as they continue to enjoy analogue TV signal.

A temporary reprieve by a Kenyan court to suspend the migration from Dec. 31, 2012 deadline, which had been imposed by the government, to a later date after the March 4 election has made many people overlook the switch.

The court order has made it appear that there is no urgency in switching from analogue to digital TV signal.

"We intend to increase the uptake of digital television in Kenya through the provision of trusted, durable and branded set top boxes that come with a yearlong warranty, as we seek to ensure that majority if not all households have access to the StarTimes digital television service," Leo said.

The free to air set top box will enable costumers' access to digital television service without attracting monthly subscription fees.

Leo cited the provision of unrivaled technology as a key factor in the delivery of competitive digital television service in the country.

With capacity to accommodate both pay television and free to air digital services, customers will have an option of upgrading from free to air to Pay TV at will and vice versa, without the need to purchase another set top box.

The Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK), the industry regulator, said just over 11,000 free to air set top boxes have so far been sold. The low volume of sales has been attributed to the low supply and high cost which seems beyond the reach of many Kenyans.

Kenya's government in the 2009/2010 Budget gave a boost to consumer electronics industry when it removed taxes from telecommunications equipments and other electronic gadgets. This, as expected, led to fall of prices of most electronic items in the East African nation, making them affordable to majority of people.

Source: Global Times