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Nation, Citizen TV and KTN to ship in one million set boxes

The country’s three leading media houses are set to launch 150,000 advanced set top boxes in the next three weeks.

The enhanced set top boxes will be provided by Nation Media Group (NMG), Standard Group (SG) and Royal Media Services (RMS) in the first phase of a plan that will see them import a million more devices by the end of March, 2015.

Speaking during a media workshop at Nairobi Serena Hotel, Mr Wilfred Kiboro, the Nation Media Group Board Chairman, said the gadgets will be sold at a one-off price that will not exceed Sh2,500 so that a majority of Kenyans can buy them.

DIGITAL MIGRATION

The move by the three media houses is set to be a major boost in the digital migration effort which the media giants have repeatedly indicated they fully support.

However, they are faced with the challenge of the short period given to them by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) to migrate from the analogue to digital platform as well as failure by the authority to allocate them enough frequencies to effectively provide digital broadcast.

They were allocated only 21 frequencies but need at least 54 to be able to fully cover the entire country
Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) through its affiliate Signet Kenya Ltd has been allocated 56 frequencies, while a Chinese firm, Pan African Network Group Kenya Ltd has been allocated 120 frequencies nationally.

Early this month, Supreme Court judges Dr Willy Mutunga (Chief Justice) and Mohammed Ibrahim, granted orders stopping CA from switching off the analogue frequencies of the three media houses until further notice.

In their application, through lawyer Paul Muite, the media houses argued that they have not been allocated enough frequencies to deploy their own digital signals.

FOUR FREQUENCIES

In Nairobi for instance, the three media houses have been jointly allocated only one frequency when they need four to cover the city and its environs.

“The digital signal travels a much shorter distance than analogue.

“That is why in Nairobi, we will need four frequencies in total: One frequency for each of the four digital sites in Nairobi and its environs, namely Limuru-Nairobi, Naivasha, Rahimtulla building and Machakos,” said Mr Muite.

They are also requesting that, upon receipt of the frequencies, they should be given two months to order, import and install transmitters, antennas and other transmission equipment necessary to roll out their digital transmission infrastructure.