Kenya to fund community broadcasters

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Kenyan broadcasters running community television stations could soon get State support as the government seeks to promote the production and distribution of local content. This comes on the back of the digital migration process that has seen an upsurge in investment for digital terrestrial free to air television stations most of them localised to specific geographic areas. “Since the digital migration process, we can confirm that we have witnessed great interest in the investment for digital terrestrial free to air television,” said Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Francis Wangusi.

 “We receive an average of five applications every day for free to air broadcast licences and most of these are television stations that are localised along counties or local communities,” he said. Mr Wangusi further added that the government will be extending the Universal Service Fund to include grants to broadcasters who do not have the capacity to roll out services in marginalised communities.

“We have also received applications from young former or current journalists who want to start community television stations but do not have the financial muscle to start broadcasting and we are exploring how we can support some of these people to launch their broadcasting businesses,” he said.

The fund was set up in 2013 where mobile phone operators are required to contribute 0.5 per cent of their annual gross revenues into the fund. The government has stated that it will require some $169 million (Sh14 billion) and a further $687 million (Sh57 billion) to set up base stations to be able to provide voice and data services to these locked-out areas. The Communication Authority has put in Sh1 billion as seed money into the fund in the financial year 2013/2014 but the rate of contribution from other operators has been wanting hampering the growth of the fund. As at April this year players in the telecommunications industry had raised Sh2.6 billion to the fund.

 “We have decided that we will increase our contribution to 25 per cent of our net revenue annually and we are starting with this financial year where we are putting in Sh800 million into the fund,” said Mr Wangusi. He further said that the authority has signed partnerships with some universities and the Kenya Film Commission to help local content developers come up with commercially viable productions. Mr Wangusi was speaking during the launch of a report by consulting firm Deloitte on the impact of Multi-Choice to Kenya’s GDP.

According to the report, Multi-Choice, which is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary in the Kenyan market, contributed $30.5 million (Sh3.2 billion) to the country’s GDP in the 2014 calendar year. MultiChoice Regional Director Stephen Isaboke said that Kenya’s is one of the firm’s core markets in Africa and that the company will focus it’s investment in promoting local talent. “We have set up Sh3 billion state of the art studios in Jamuhuri where we can produce virtually any kind of content and even seamlessly switch live feeds from our studios in South Africa,” explained Mr Isaboke. “Maisha Magic, which is our channel dedicated to East African content will also be split into three channels, each for the respective countries and we will be carrying a mix of English, Swahili and vernacular content on the Kenyan channel.”
Source: Standard Media 30 September 2015  Read the full story here