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Digital Migration: Media Houses Accuse Government Of Intimidation

The clash between the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and the country’s top three media houses over the digital TV migration took a new turn over the weekend after CA switched off the analogue transmitters of the media houses on Friday, following a ruling by the Supreme Court.

On 13th February, the Justices of the Supreme Court of Kenya, made a ruling against Royal Media Services, Standard Media Group and Nation Media Group, in a petition that the three media houses had filed, seeking to have the CA restrained from switching off their analogue transmitters. The court maintained that there was no basis foundation in the application by the three media houses.

It is clear to us that, following the judgement of this Court, and the appropriate acts of compliance which have been summarised in this ruling, the stage was properly set for migration from analogue to the digital platform in broadcast transmissions, and there was, and is, a new national and international reality in that regard, to be adopted and internalised by all parties who have come before us. From the foregoing observation, and from our Ruling as a whole, it should be clear that there is in place no cogent foundation for the application filed by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents (Royal Media Services Ltd, Standard Media Services Ltd and Nation Media Services Ltd.) before this apex appellate Court. From the terms of this Ruling, the Orders of which we set out below, it will be evident that no matter is pending before this Court, to be preserved by interim Orders.”

Following the ruling, the CA served a notice to the three media houses to switch off their analogue transmitters by midnight on Friday 13th February 2015, which the media houses defied. The CA then went ahead and sought warrants from the Magistrate’s Court to switch off the three media houses’ analogue transmitters.


Following the switch off of their analogue transmitters, the media houses subsequently, went ahead and allegedly switched themselves off the digital transmission as well, a move that has been condemned by the communications Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i.

Matiang’i has through a press statement accused the three media houses of inciting the public and portraying the regulator in bad light through ‘inaccurate and misleading messages’.

“Both switching themselves off the digital transmission and screening inaccurate messages is both illegal and in blatant breach of the conditions of their licensing. The government notes this with great concern and hopes the CA will take independent regulatory action on the same.
The conduct of the three media houses is contemptuous to the Supreme Court. It is irrational and perhaps intended to incite public opinion against the regulator and the government,” 
Reads part of the statement.


KTN, NTV and CITIZEN TV have countered the accusations from the ministry with a statement of their own and maintained that the CA and the government is responsible for the broadcast switch off, which is aimed to forcefully intimidate them to give in to the unfavourable demands of the regulator.

It is incomprehensible that the ICT Cabinet Secretary and the Communications Authority choose to blame the three media houses for a broadcast switch off that the government and the regulator is entirely responsible for.

We note with concern that the statement by the Cabinet Secretary is laced with threats aimed at intimidating the three media houses into giving in to the contentious, pre-determined and altogether unacceptable position taken by the Communications Authority on digital signal distribution,”.


The media houses conclude their statement by apologizing to the public over the inconvenience cause by the switch off; “to our viewers, we regret the inconvenience caused by the unfortunate developments arising entirely from the gross mishandling of the digital migration process by the Communications Authority and other forces”.

Well, going by the massive reactions on social media, Kenyans seems to be rather pleased by the woes facing the media houses and are happy that finally the regulator has implemented the analogue switch-off, which the media houses have been fighting.

Below some of the responses, most of which are in the usual Kenyan comical approach to issues;

Musili Mbuvi I will not buy your set of lunch boxes even if they are loaded with free pilau for lunch, you are running a broadcast business like hooligans and the ONLY person benefiting is your lawyer. In fact let me ask facebook to block you also!

Mungai Kagunya Matatus owners and Matatu welfare behaved just like you during Michuki rules. You either adapt and stop whining or go the Kodak route

Esmond Leyian Load of crap. Go tell it to the birds. What have you been waiting for since 2008?

Mbogo Patrick For the 3 media houses it will be a great honor for you to respect the rule of law and comply with government directives. You switched yourselves off and decided to deny Kenyans opportunity to watch their favourite programs. We Kenyans do not side with you when you are simply trying to fulfill your selfish commercial interest. Let us continue with K24 and KBC but let’s all obey the law otherwise you are being unfair. Thank you

Benaa Mwas Mwangi We don’t care. Just compile the News and when they reach up to 13 episodes you sell to us as a movie.


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