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Supreme Court halts analogue TV switch-off

Residents of Nairobi who have not migrated from analogue to digital television broadcasting will only be able to view three channels from midnight Wednesday.

This is after the Supreme Court ordered the government to temporarily stop the planned migration for NTV, KTN and Citizen TV.

Kenya had planned to switch-off the analogue signal in the capital and its environs tonight beginning the first phase of digital migration.

Supreme Court Judge and Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal issued the orders following an application filed by three local media houses — Nation Media Group, Standard Group and Royal Media Services — seeking more time to prepare for the migration.

NOT GRANTED ENOUGH TIME

The broadcasters, in the application, said they had not been granted enough frequency to deploy their own digital signal.

The government had in November licensed the trio to build their own digital infrastructure.

“However, in order to migrate, we need digital frequencies because a licence without a frequency is useless,” lawyer Paul Muite representing the media houses said.

The broadcasters hold that one frequency that was allocated to them by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is not enough to appropriately cover the whole city, which they said, requires at least three.

The news brought smiles on the faces of Kenyans living in the city and surrounding areas who would have been left staring at blank screens following the planned switch off.

The case will be heard on January 5. The switch-over requires consumers to acquire a set-top box which converts analogue signals into a format that can be received by digital sets.

The cheapest free-to-air set-top box currently available with a retail price of about Sh3,100.

The government had expected to have migrated the whole country by March next year.

“We are not going to extend the deadline any more. We have already done that enough times in the past,” CA director general Francis Wangusi had said in an earlier interview.