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Multichoice of South Africa has linked up with two of Kenya's television stations which will now be available on DSTv. Private station NTV, operated by the Nation Media Group, and public broadcaster Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC), were uplinked last week at a cost of $400,000.

Kenya becomes the latest country in Africa to join the DSTv channel after South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda.

  The link will enable subscribers in remote areas where television is not available to receive the two channels.

Multichoice business development manager Harry Pratt said in Limuru, where he switched on the link, that among the main beneficiaries of the partnership between the three broadcasters will be communities for whom the station is planning to set up centres where people can watch television.

The gesture, he said is part of the firm's corporate social responsibility. It is also an important step within the Millennium Development Goals of creating an informed society.

Multichoice has established resource centres in 20 schools across the country, where DSTv equipment and seven educational channels have been installed.

To hook up to DStv, Multichoice is offering a fully installed single-view unit at Ksh20,000 ($270). The equipment includes a properly installed decoder, smartcard and satellite dish to receive the signal.

Existing DStv subscribers will get the two local channels free in addition to their DStv subscription packages. Non-subscribers will have to purchase the DStv equipment and then pay a $25 annual access fee.

Other choices include the "premium bouquet," with access to comprehensive DSTv channels and programmes at a cost of Ksh5,000 ($67) per month and a limited choice of some 20 channels and programmes at Ksh2,000 ($33.5) per month.

The project heralds what could be the future of broadcasting as providers inch towards the general enhancement of telecasting through more efficient and guaranteed delivery of channels in digital quality. NTV is available on DSTv channel 111 while KBC is on 110.

The $400,000 has been invested to build a satellite uplink facility in Nairobi in order for the channels to be uplinked onto the Eutelsat W4 satellite that beams the DStv service to Kenya and also in additional satellite capacity in order to carry the channels on the satellite. The uplink facility is hosted by KBC at the Limuru site and is open to other channels that may wish to join the project, said Mr Pratt.

Due to restrictions on broadcasting rights, the uplinked local stations are only available in Kenya.

The East African