Second digital signal goes live to rival KBC
The second national digital signal distributor Panafrican Group will today go live with the launch of pay TV service, Startimes on its platform. The service will be on the second generation of Digital Video Broadcast Terrestrial technology (DVB-T2). Panafrican is one of three licensed digital signal distributors. First to be licensed was the KBC subsidiary Signet while Media Owners were also granted a license by the Communications Commission of Kenya.
However, because Signet is yet to roll out its signal nationwide, Startimes is expected to provide stiff competition for Multichoice which is still restricted to Nairobi with its coverage. Startimes will sell digital set-top boxes at Sh3500 with a one month free subscription. After that users will be required to pay a Sh500 monthly fee to access its bouquet of programs.
Company head of sales Anderson Ngaru said the company is recruiting a nationwide dealer network to sell its boxes and service in major towns. Ngaru said the company has intends to capture the market with high-quality programs at an affordable rate. The country is racing to meet its self-imposed 2012 deadline for the mandatory migration from analog to digital TV transmission.
The International Telecommunications Union has set a 2015 deadline for worldwide digital migration. Rollout of Signet’s signal has been hindered by lack of funds and only Multichoice has launched a digital TV service called GoTV on the platform. The company sells boxes at about Sh6000 and charges a monthly subscription fee of Sh785 after giving viewers three months of free viewing.
The service has 21 channels including local news channels. The shift to digital transmission faces challenges such as affordability of set-top boxes. CCK has asked the government to consider zero-rating duty on the boxes to make them more accessible to consumers. The industry awaits the tabling of the Finance Bill on Thursday to see if Treasury will grant the request.