Digital TV now a reality in Kenya
Posted Wednesday, December 9 2009 at 13:40
Kenya became the second African country to switch to digital television on Wednesday
At exactly 12.08pm, President Kibaki led the country in migrating from the analogue to the digital terrestrial television broadcasting signal.
“We have now moved to another world,” said the President during the launch at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation studios in Nairobi.
As opposed to the analogue television signal, the digital signal provides for better picture and sound quality. It also offers multiple programming, through multi-casting, and provides for interactive capabilities.
Whereas a station broadcasting an analogue signal on, say channel 7, can only offer viewers one programme, a station broadcasting a digital signal can, through multi-casting, air one programme on channel 7-1, a second programme on channel 7-2 and a third one on channel 7-3. This means more programming choices for viewers.
Viewers with analogue TV sets will need to connect an inexpensive receiver (a converter box) to their sets in order to receive the digital signals.
KBC, the licensed signal distributor, has completed installing equipment to relay digital signals. “In Africa, only South Africa has fully embarked on the transition, which is partly driven by the Fifa World Cup. The International Telecommunications Union requires all countries to move to digital by 2015. However, Kenya will fully migrate by 2012,” President Kibaki said.
The move marked a new dawn for Kenya in the information communication and technology field as DTV is a major phenomenon since the invention of coloured television.
Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said an individual with an analogue TV would require about Sh5,000 to buy a converter box to switch to digital TV. However, he was optimistic that the cost would come down.
President Kibaki also directed the Ministry of Finance and that of Information and Communications to provide tax relief for importation of new technologies.
The Information Ministry was further directed to educate Kenyans on DTV.
“Some of the benefits are superior image and sound clarity, interactive communication and data broadcasts and freeing up of more frequencies. Usage of DTV will be of great importance to Kenyans. It should be driven by need to expand services to all Kenyans,” the President said.
He said there will now be channels dedicated to youth, sports, tourism, science and culture.
Although there are currently 18 TV stations in the country, 60 applications are still pending. There are 60 FM radio stations while a further 150 applications are pending.
Following the launch, Phase One of the transition, covering Nairobi and its environs, was to start Wednesday.
Dr Ndemo said most parts of the country would have been covered by the end of next year.
KBC managing director David Waweru said: “This is the moment we have all been waiting for. It is the biggest technological shift since the advent of colour TV. We are no longer in broadcast but ICT.”