Kenya: Nairobians to Buy Sh3,000 Decoders to Watch TV Beyond

Technology & Convergence

Nairobi residents will either need a digital television or a set top box to watch television beyond Kenya's 50th year of Independence. This was announced by Joseph Tiampati, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, on behalf of the digital migration committee.

The committee comprises of the Ministry, the Communications Commissions of Kenya (CCK), broadcasters and consumer groups. By 13th December, 2012, Nairobians will need to purchase one of the 39 licensed DVB-T2 set top boxes that start at about KSh. 3,000, one of the licensed digital TVs from either LG or Samsung starting at about KSh. 50,000 or purchase a set top box from either GOtv or StarTimes which have monthly subscription fees starting at about KSh. 500.

Francis Wangusi, CCK Director General, says that Pay TV users can now watch free to air TV without monthly payments for at least 3 months, but this will cost them higher for the decoders.

A list of approved decoders and TVs, where available and their pricing is available here

Major towns including Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and Eldoret will switch off analog broadcasting on 30th March 2014 with the rest of the country doing so by 30th June 2014.

Wangusi says the December date was chosen as it is a time when Kenyans are free from school fee commitment and is also a festive period when most Kenyans tend to spend.

Globally, a deadline of June 2015 has been set for the migration from analog to digital broadcasting. Analog broadcasting has fewer channels on lots of rare frequency compared to digital broadcasting which uses spectrum more efficiently and provides more services such as pay TV and high definition TV. Freed spectrum can then be utilised for services such as 4G LTE.

Tiampati said the government had taken measures to make the switch easier, such as removal of duties on set top boxes and removal of the requirement of a card slot on the same to make them more affordable.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK), who have previously gone to court to stop digital migration, were absent from the meeting that arrived at the deadline. It was also announced that the process to license a third digital signal broadcaster, occasioned by protest of local media, was still ongoing.