Kenya: CCK's Search for Third Signal Distributor On


The Communication Commission of Kenya is set to announce the tender for a third broadcast digital signal distributor license after nearly two years deadlock with local media owners.

The regulator is preparing the documents and will put out the notice in coming weeks. The local media companies are hoping to get the license. Though the Media Owners Association had been assured they would be handed the license by the government, they will now have to compete with other local investors who may also be interested.

"CCK is preparing to put out a tender for third signal distributor license soon," said the ICT Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang'i on Friday.

The first digital distributor license was given to Signet, a subsidiary of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. Chinese company Pan African Network group got the second license, a decision that did not go down well with local media companies who had also participated in the tender process.

The new cabinet secretary intervened on the license issue and said he has been engaging the media owners in the last few weeks.

CCK has in the last two years insisted it does not have broadcasting spectrum to issue to the media owners. It had suggested to them to either enter a Public Private Partnership with government on the Signet license or alternatively buy stake in the Pan African Group.

While the tender for the third license will be open, it is set to be "ring-fenced" to suit local investors to allow organisations such as the MOA to comfortably participate in the bidding.

MOA has formed a company to bid for the third license. In 2011, the media companies had bid for the license separately, Nation Media Group and Royal Media had been shortlisted before losing to the Chinese company in the last round.

"We support them (MOA) but think they will have to got through the right procurement process," said Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary general Stephen Mutoro.

The lobby group, which will spearhead a committee on digital migration, said issues of signal strength and free to air channels have to be addressed before the migration.

Some of the local broadcasters have recently pulled out their content on the Pan African Group signal citing unfair business practices. They have complained that the company is taking up their free-to-air content and monetising it through sale to pay-TV service.