Kenya’s digital broadcasters cease transmission of free-to-air channels

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In April the Supreme Court of Kenya ruled that the country was not yet ready for digital migration, in favour of local media outlets: Nation Media, Standard Media and Royal Media.

The court also stated that pay-TV operators, the StarTimes Group, MultiChoice’s GOtv and the Pan-African Network must stop broadcasting local free-to-air (FTA) network signals, claiming the broadcasters did not have permission to do so.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has expressed concerns over how this will affect consumers who pre-pay for these services with an understanding that these channels form part of their viewing bouquet.

COFEK said in a statement: “The disruption in the continued reception of these key channels occasions heavy inconvenience to consumers who are not party to the dispute between the two broadcast signal retailers GOtv and StarTimes on one hand and the three media houses on the other.’

Backed by Section Four of the Consumer Protection Act 2012, the federation has said they may pursue a class action suit against GOtv, StarTimes and the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) and stated: “Ideally, the CAK should have now summoned both the retailers and media houses to a dialogue meeting to hasten their negotiations. Even then, consumers must be compensated for the period the FTAs have been off-air.’

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