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MEDIA WARS OVER DIGITAL MIGRATION CONTENT

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ARTICLE by Winnie Kabintie

The countries top four media houses, namely, CITIZEN, KTN, QTV and NTV have recently been running an infomercial on their respective stations, cautioning their viewers’ against “being duped to buy GOTV and Startimes decorders” as a means of being able to access the four free to air channels.

“It has come to our attention that GOTV and Startimes have been broadcasting our content without consent”  the infomercial further states, before announcing that the four media houses will soon launch their own set top boxes in the market.

According to sources, the 4 stations are set to import the decoders under a new consortium called African Digital Network. The decoder will sell at a one off charge of Kshs 2,000.

One would expect Kenyans to rejoice over the announcement but ironically, majority of viewers have condemned the media houses for the move. Going by the reactions on social media, the argument is that the media houses are flexing their muscle to derail digital migration by all means until it’s convenient for them and the latest ‘gimmick’ has proven just how bad they are ready to fight their way out.

SABOTAGE?

startimes_logoThe country’s film players in particular, are not pleased with the move by the four free -to –air stations on grounds that they are now trying to sabotage GOTV and Startimes, because they (media houses) lack enough content compared to their pay TV competitors.

“This is what happens to businesses that don’t have vision. Instead of fighting digital migration, you guys should have been producing content. GOTV and Startimes were producing content. Now they have you all running scared somehow. So what do you do? You try to sabotage them. For your information the audience have a choice, your mediocre content is not going to make the cut. I LOVE IT!” said one of the county’s leading actresses who sought anonymity for fear of victimization.

“You cannot fight change nor can you bully viewers to watch just you,” said TV and film director  Simiyu Barasa.

GOTV AND STARTIMES CONDEMN MISLEADING INFOMERCIAL

gotvGOTV and Startimes have now on the other hand published a public notice selectively on The Star newspaper, as observed by our correspondent, to refute the claims by the above mentioned media houses. The Star Newspaper is run by the Radio Africa Group, which is not involved in this battle.

According to GOTV, airing the content of the above mentioned stations is in line with a ‘must carry’ obligation imposed by regulation 14 (2) (b) of The Kenya Information and Communications (Broadcasting) Regulations 2009, whose objective is to ensure that the public has access to information.

GOTV argues that in a ruling made by the ‘Supreme Court at Nairobi petition no 14 of 2014 Communications Commission of Kenya and five other vs Royal Media Services Limited and five others but judgment delivered on 29th September 2014, affirmed that the ‘must carry’ order does not infringe on the broadcasters’ copyright’.

The pay tv station, which is a product of Multichoice, has also announced that it will be moving to court for appropriate redress on the matter, which they claim is meant to malign their companies and brands.

“GOTV Kenya limited would like to assure Kenyans that the company operates within the confines of the law of Kenya. The latest infomercial is not only defamatory of GOTV, misleading to the public but also contemptuous of the court finding stated above.”

The four media houses have used the courts on numerous occasions to derail the digital migration.

In December last year, Standard Group (KTN), Nation Media Group (NTV) and Royal Media Services (CITIZEN) moved to court a day before the deadline to the digital migration as stated by Communications Authority (CAK), to stop the move on grounds that they were not ready. 

“PROTECT CONSUMERS FROM THIS WAR”

“As vicious media war erupt in Kenya to control market share. Consumers are left suffering more, we might find ourselves with ten decoders. We know three big media houses owning Citizen, KTN, NTV, and QTV will not let upcoming media houses to share their monopoly of advertising revenue. They will use all dirty tricks to push others out of market. Radio Africa(owning Kiss Tv, the Star Newspaper, Radio Jambo, classic and East fm) has added fuel to burning house by coming up with their Bamba Tv decorder. Multichoice a big entity owning Gotv and has monopoly of airing English premier league has maintained old strategy of giving raw deal when it comes to airing EPL. Star times which was being pushed out of market is not putting strong defense to remain afloat. As each entity is pushing for it vested interest, where is Government through CCK? Where is COFEK? Judiciary and Parliament must protect consumers from this unnecessary war,” Mwaniki Kariru, a Kenyan consumer protested on COFEK’s Facebook page.

 

 

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