Supreme Court allows 3 media houses to continue with analogue broadcast

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Kenya’s three main media houses, Nation Media Group (NMG), Royal Media Services (RMS) and Standard Group (SG) can legally broadcast on analogue frequencies, despite the digital migration date that was set for December 31, 2014.

This is after the Supreme Court yet again extended the digital migration switch off date, following an application by the three media houses.

Supreme Court Judge Mohamed Ibrahim and Chief Justice Willy Mutunga extended the analogue broadcast as the Communication Authority sought to block the determination of the case yesterday and applied that the matter should be heard by the full bench of the Supreme Court.

The two-judge Bench also ordered the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to let the three media houses carry their content on the analogue platform until their application to extend the switch off date is heard.

The media houses had filed the application last Friday in which they asked the court to put off the digital migration deadline for another four months to allow them time to procure equipment for the switch-over.

“The switch-off date shall be extended until further directions of the court,” the judges ruled.

The Communications Authority had accused the three media houses of enjoying an unfair advantage over other industry players by having a presence on both digital and analogue platforms.

“CA does not switch off. It gives notice to media houses who switch off the analogue platform. As we speak, only RMS, NMG and SG are on both digital and analogue platforms,” the regulator said. The media houses, however said CA had only furnished them with one of the four promised frequencies, which are needed to complete the procurement of transmitters for the digital signal.

CA had set December 31 as the switch off date for Nairobi and its environs and had given the media houses a licence to carry their own content alongside one frequency.

Earlier on, the three media houses had an issue with the distribution of frequencies and the date set for digital migration, saying they did not have adequate time to put up their systems. This brought on the current court battles that have seen total digital migration challenged.

Only Signet, a subsidiary of State broadcaster KBC, and Chinese firm Pan African Group have procured all required licences for the migration.

The date for the full hearing will be announced later .

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