KENYAN 31 MAR 2020
The Communications Authority of Kenya has taken the fight to digital terrestrial television (DTT) providers over locking Kenyans out of free to air (FTA) television platforms.
In a statement released on Tuesday, January 31, the CAK announced that it had received complaints from members of the public that some pay-tv service providers have configured their platforms to bar some DTT set-top boxes from receiving free to air (FTA) TV signals from other DTT platforms.
The CAK stated that it was concerned by such trends and ordered the culprits to make the content accessible within 48 hours, starting March 30, 2020.
“We direct all licensed DTT broadcast signal distributors and DTT pay-TV providers to unconditionally remove any restrictions and enable reception of all FTA broadcast signals from all other DTT platforms within forty-eight hours,” the agency directed.
Kenyans watching proceedings on a TV screen.FILE
CAK further warned that it would take action on any of the Pay TV service providers if they don’t comply to the government’s demand.
The complaint by many Kenyans was that when they failed to pay for the channels provided on the pay-tv services, they were also locked from accessing other free to air channels until they renewed their subscription.
This, according to the notice by CAK, is illegal since barring the reception of free to air services broadcasting signals is a violation of licence conditions and the law.
“These services should be accessible to Kenyans regardless of whether they have paid for a subscription or not. They are free to air channels and thus should be accessed,” the CA further clarified.
According to data released in July 2019, the number of free-to-air television channels in Kenya increased to 81 in the three months ending March 2019, four years after the government switched off analogue signals.
The government agency further announced that digital TV subscriptions had increased slightly by 1.5 per cent to 5.8 million during the period.
Some of the free to air platforms that are accessible to Kenyans include Pan Africa Group (PANG), Signet, Bamba channels and Africa Digital Network (ADN).