Kenya’s digital migration is drawing new players into the local broadcasting sector.
160 local broadcasters have applied for licenses to air their content on the digital platform.
Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) acting director general, Francis Wangusi, revealed that the government has approved 36 such licenses.
“These are entrepreneurs who have developed local content but were just sitting on it because they did not have the right channel to air it,” he said.
He was speaking last night during the official launch of a Chinese pay television broadcaster, StarTimes, in the Kenyan market.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has set a 2015 deadline for all broadcasters in Kenya to migrate from analogue to digital transmission of their signals. Kenya hopes to have migrated 80 per cent of its four million television sets to the digital platform by December 2012.
The advent of digital television will reorganise the local broadcasting sector. Currently, Kenyan television stations develop their own content and transmit it to the public. However, on the digital platform, they will cede the transmission of signals to a third party.
The government has so far awarded two firms, Signent and Pan African Network Group, the rights to distribute the signal nationally.
Digital migration is also expected to make the media space more competitive. Currently, Kenya has 18 free-to air television channels. This number is expected to increase exponentially with the entry of new local and international players.
Last week, Ministry of Information permanent secretary, Bitange Ndemo, disclosed that much of the local interest in the segment was coming from broadcasters wishing to set up vernacular television stations. He urged local entrepreneurs to take advantage of the ready market and to generate local content for sale.
In the PayTV segment, StarTimes will be competing against Multichoice’s DStv, GoTV and Wananchi Group’s Zuku