Digital Migration Saga Part ii

To understand the analogue digital migration, you need to know something about distribution of frequencies world-over. I am no expert in this guys.

The ITU classifies all TV frequencies from channel 21 to 69. These are the frequencies awarded to every country. And every country is protected from
having its frequencies interfered with by the neighboring country.

Its this protection that will be lost if a country does not migrate to digital. That is not very important.

In Kenya, and this is according to the Royal Media Service


chairman S.K. Macharia, channel 21 to 48 frequencies are allocated for television broadcast. Channel 49 to 65 are for other government communication purposes such as police and military communication.

The benefits of digital over analogue frequencies is in not dispute. One analogue frequency can carry only two channels. One digital frequency can carry up to 20 channels. No sane broadcaster/ distributor therefore, would oppose digital

World over, these “public” frequencies are used for Free To Air (FTA) television broadcasting. They are public utilities. Any content broadcast on them should be access freely by anyone with a TV set without being made to subscribe (monthly).

A Set Top box should be like the aerial which you buy as a one-of and no more subscriptions. The CCK even set a Simulcast Period, during which both the analogue and digital transmission would be
running, as a transition period.

If you want to do commercial transmissions you can either use the satellite or fiber cables as used by DSTV or even CNN. Those have nothing to do with the public-owned frequencies.

This is what Macharia says, “There is nowhere in the world where you find the frequencies being used for Pay-TV. When you make monthly subscriptions, you are paying for what should be free content.

Back to signal distribution, the Communications Authority has mapped out 56 distribution sites
across the country. Nairobi and its environ has four distribution sites One at Limuru, second one
at Rahimtula Towers, the third in Naivasha and the fourth near Day Star Univeraity in Machakos

More about the fight for and
discrimination in the allocation of frequencies in these sites will come later.

A bigger concern by the three media houses however, is about handing their content to Signet
(GoTV) and PANG (Startimes).
They were being asked to abandon all the infrastructure they have laid out throughout the country for years and become subservient to a government and a Chinese entity.

China as a country not known for human rights and media freedom. Any Chinese company investing in the broadcast industry in Kenya is not here for
public good but purely for business. Should PANG get an order from above to stop distribution of particular controversial content to Kenyans it will comply immediately. If anything, it will be having other commercial material to transmit and you will still be paying for the boxes. I will be discussing
that in more details later.

Even forget the three media house, would a Kenyan company, even one owned by all Kenyans,
be allowed to be a broadcast signal distributor in China?

The argument is not that the Chinese company should not be allowed to be involved in this industry but there is all the rationale in giving the third licence to some independent Kenyan entity with that kind of infrastructure.

Their wars in courts have therefore been for two things , ONE, a Broadcasting Signal Distribution (BSD) licence to air their content and TWO frequencies to be able to do that. A licence without frequencies is just a paper.

With those two items they will be good to go, in broadcasting content free of charge to Kenyans, without charging any subscriptions for the Set Top

One question has consistently come up, “what have they been waiting for now that they are advertising this late and rushing to bring in their own Set Top boxes?”

The answer to that question is hilarious. Its technical, yet so simple and logical as we will be seeing much later. So yes the fight has nothing to do with blocking the digital migration or even a switch off.


Courtesy of Wahome Thuku.


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