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Analogue TV switched off

Millions of TV viewers in Kenya are staring at blank screens after the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) used armed police officers ON Saturday to forcefully switch off the analogue signals of the three leading TV stations in Kenya, NTV, KTN and Citizen.

The move follows a ruling Friday (February 13) by the Supreme Court that allowed the authority to proceed with its set switch off dates. The stations were taken off-air on Saturday mid-morning.

“Communications Authority uses police to forcefully switch off NTV, KTN and Citizen analogue signals,” tweeted Emmanuel Juma, head of news at NTV.

The three stations are now off-air completely including the digital and pay-TV signals, according to a joint statement that was put out on KTN, the last to be switched off.

“…CA has declined to allow us the requisite time to import our own transmitters and set top boxes that will enable our viewers to receive our broadcasts on our own platform as provided by the self-provisioning license granted by the Supreme Court,” read the advert in part.

FORCED SWITCH-OFF

“Our channels are as a result not available on pay-TV or any digital platforms.”

CA had given media owners until Friday midnight to migrate – or face forced switch-off on Saturday – but the broadcasters had called upon the authority to consider 90 per cent of Kenyan viewers who rely on free-to-air TV.

Affected viewers – whose migration dates as set by CA have passed – are in Nairobi and its environs, Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kakamega, Kisii, Nakuru, Eldoret, Nyahururu, Nyadundi, Machakos, Narok, Londiani and Rongai. All other areas will be switched off on March 30.

On Friday the Media Owners Association, in a statement signed by chairman Sam Shollei, accused CA of selectively applying a Supreme Court ruling on the dispute, while disregarding the interests of more than 90 percent of viewers who depend entirely on free-to-air television.

Switching off analogue broadcasts amounts to plunging into darkness of more than 90 percent of viewers, a majority of them ordinary Kenyans with no means to access or afford pay television.