Digital Migration to take off soon

The new 1st digital Samsung distal TVs on market . Photo Elkana Jacob
The new 1st digital Samsung distal TVs on market . Photo Elkana Jacob

The Ministry of Information and Communication has said it is about to reach an agreement on the switch-off date of analogue set boxes in the country paving the way for digital migration.

The Ministry through its National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring said today that discussions are currently on going with the lobby group Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK), the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) and

the country’s national broadcaster, KBC, with the aim of reducing the cost of the digital migration.

The consumer group COFEK had filed a petition last year to stop digital migration by the government which was initially scheduled for December 31. The High Court barred the migration stating that the digital migration would be unfair to Kenyans keen to follow the March 4 general elections. The court directed the parties to agree on a suitable switch off date.

Through negotiations,

stakeholders have agreed on various strategies for digital migration including a Cabinet Memo to subsidize costs which has been drawn up by the government. The issuance of vouchers to the public has also been proposed within the memo.

The government is pushing for the development of massive local content to interest in the migration. A massive awareness has also been planned to sensitize the public about the advantages and benefits of digital migration before it is fully implemented.

Mary Ombara, director of the National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring said with the Treasury’s full approval of zero-rating of taxes the affordability of digital-set boxes is expected to rise once local business in this sector begins to take off.

Ombara said prices of the set-boxes have dropped from Sh4,000 to Sh2,500 adding that the latest price is Sh1,900. She said prices will reduce further as the purchase of the gadgets increases.

“In view of the fact that many countries across the globe have already fully migrated, the committee is very concerned that Kenya has achieved less than 10 per cent of digital migration. Since our neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Rwanda are almost fully migrated, it will make the regional sectoral business very awkward,” Ombara said.

She said the slow digital migration puts Kenya at the risk of stagnation if it fails to reach the June 17 2015 compulsory date for digital migration set by the global body (UPU).

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