Most Kenyans not satisfied with alternative news sources

Saturday February 21 2015

Larry Madowo anchoring an NTV webcast on February 14, 2015 after the Communications Authority prevented the station from broadcasting.

Larry Madowo anchoring an NTV webcast on February 14, 2015 after the Communications Authority prevented the station from broadcasting. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NGARE KARIUKI
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A vast majority of Kenyans are not satisfied with the alternative sources of news or information after NTV, QTV, KTN and Citizen TV went off air last Saturday, a new poll has revealed as the crisis over the digital migration continues.

Only one out of every four television owners sought out news on alternative local TV stations after the switch-off, with the majority opting to get news from radio, newspapers and social media.

According to the survey, 73 per cent of TV owners without set-top boxes (STBs) say they are not satisfied with their new main sources of information — which includes the other local TV channels that are currently broadcasting on the digital network.

Television viewers require STBs to receive digital transmission. State broadcaster KBC and K24, which is linked to the family of President Uhuru Kenyatta, are the only two major television stations still airing news.

Nearly one in 10 respondents said they have opted to go without news at all.

The Ipsos-funded survey, which was conducted in the form of computer-aided-telephonic-interviews on February 17 and 18, targeted 932 television owners.

Approximately four out of every 10 television owners, that is 38 per cent, own STBs, which means that those who do not own them have not been watching television for the past week.

BLAMED THE GOVERNMENT

When the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) moved to switch off the analogue signal last Saturday, whose impact was the going off air of the main TV stations, the general perception was that “all channels” had been switched off.

“Asked what they had ‘noticed on television’ since the previous Saturday, three quarters of these television owners mentioned that the mainstream television stations stopped transmission,” reads the report.

A majority of the respondents (59 per cent) attributed the switch-off to the government, with different respondents blaming the “government” in general, the CA and the Ministry of Information and Communication.

Only a tiny minority put the blame on the Supreme Court and the Chinese, though a considerable proportion (16 per cent) are unsure who is responsible.

Twenty-six per cent of those who own STBs blame media owners for the current standoff as do those who are yet to acquire the devices (12 per cent).

Only 60 per cent of those who do not own STBs said they were planning to buy one, the survey showed. But the rest are not sure whether they will do so as they wait out the current tussle between the government and media owners.

A similar recent study by GeoPoll found that some of the major barriers to the digital migration cited by television owners include the high cost of set-top boxes and ignorance about how to do it.

Nation Media Group, Royal Media Services and the Standard Group had asked the government for more time to import and distribute free-to-air set-top boxes at an affordable cost before switching off their analogue signals.

According to the three leading broadcasters, their STBs will cost their customers less than the current average price with no monthly subscription charges.