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Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Nation Media Group Linus Gitahi called a meeting of staff at the Group's corporate headquarters earlier today and informed them that NTV and QTV would be back on air on Thursday at 6:50 PM on all digital platforms.

This marks a watershed moment as the long-drawn out battle between three media houses, NMG, Royal Media and Standard Group and the Communications Authority of Kenya comes to an end.

The three have resisted migrating their broadcasts onto the available digital media platforms SIGNET and PANG as well as DStv demanding to distribute their own digital signals.

It is emerging however that the visiting leader of Ishmaili Muslims, HH the Aga Khan, who also controls NMG through his holding companies was not happy with the continued stand off and demanded an end to the garrulous defiance of court orders and regulatory notices by NTB.

The loss of revenue was also starting to tell although for NMG, the Newspaper division remains the undisputed king grossing ten times the other divisions.

In 2013 for example, while Newspapers and Magazines made sales of Sh11.3billion, broadcasting including TV and Radio did just about Sh2billion.

The Gross Profit for Print was Sh3.4bn against just Sh215million for broadcast over the same period.

Commercial guys were also beginning to complain about the loss of audience and likely ramifications for revenues going forward.

Word is that KTN and Citizen might also be back on air at the same time perhaps suggesting time was taken for the three to consult earlier today before making the announcement.

Monday, March 2, 2015


The ADN consortium of NTV, Citizen TV and KTN cannot broadcast in Nairobi any longer after the Nairobi analogue frequencies were withdrawn yesterday.

For them to broadcast in Nairobi, they can only do it months from now once they can get their infrastructure and licensing taken care of or join the existing digital platforms of SIGNET (GOtv) or PANG (Startimes).

The frequencies they have been using will now likely be redistributed on a need basis to those who apply.

The withdrawal came against the backdrop of a visit to Kenya by the Aga Khan, the controlling owner of the Nation Media Group to the country during which he met Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The visit to State House by the Aga Khan prompted rumours that NMG would be bringing its two TV stations, NTV and QTV back on the air through the existing platforms after State House refused to budge on the digital migration matter.

This has however not been confirmed.

It is notable however that the Aga Khan has never unnecessarily tangled with the government of the day and his visit to State House is seen more in business rather than political terms.

The monumental folly of the three media houses is becoming clearer by the day as the advantage they have enjoyed begins to look fleeting.

Some of the local content they have been protecting such as locally produced shows are now said to be seeking suitors elsewhere.

It is an unconfirmed rumour that ratings-buster Churchill Live could soon move to K24.

Other big shows that depend on sponsors such as JKL, The Property Show among others may soon be looking to move where they can continue to reach audiences.

In the meantime, Ebru TV is fast coming up exposing the weak underbelly of the three media houses, that a news gathering and production team can be put up quickly and hit the ground running by merely poaching existing talent away from the three media houses.

That is how they themselves operate, occasionally raiding each other for talent.

Others may borrow a leaf and see entire newsrooms shipped to newcomers.

After all, it takes only Sh200,000 to get a TV license on digital with proof of content.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


The International Telecommunications Union has denied claims The Daily Nation newspaper that it has granted an extension of the June 2015 digital migration deadline for 30 African states.

Sanjay Acharia, the Chief Media Relations person at the ITU in an email to Dennis Itumbi of State House Nairobi said:

"There is no extension to the deadline for digital transition in the UHF bands for any of the 30 African countries which remains at 17 June 2015."

The Nation is the flagship brand of the Nation Media Group and enjoys the widest circulation in the country.

Critics of the paper point to the fact that the story was carried on the front page as proof that the media group is using its newspapers to misrepresent the facts.

Monday, February 23, 2015


KBC made Sh4.6m just from covering the East Africa Summit live. It was an unintended gift as the coverage was originally meant to be carried by NTV.

This is a sign of what is happening. K24 and KBC TV sales departments have lately been overwhelmed by business coming from the three striking stations of NTV, Citizen TV and KTN.

One publicist said he tried to buy time for his documentary on K24 and was offered a take it or leave it option.

He could have it air at 10:15 PM or choose to not air it.

KBC equally have their slots full and sales people are having fits trying to get clients slots.

This shows the real reason behind the long-drawn out fight over digital migration and the move by the three media houses to refuse to join the existing digital platforms.

Over Sh40billion was spent last year on TV advertising in Kenya.

In Q3, 2014 for example, Sh9billion was spent on TV ads.

The top spenders included:

Reckitt Benckiser - Sh790million (July-September)
Safaricom - Sh436million
Proctor and Gamble - Sh401million
Unilever - Sh381million
Samsung Electronics - Sh325million
OLX - Sh304 million
Coca Cola Kenya -Sh292m
Nestle Kenya - Sh288m
....and the list goes on

Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs Nzioka Waita said:

"(We) are looking at our options. We have to see how the situation evolves before we make any big decisions."

Waita said owing to this the company has not made any forward buys this year.

"We have agreed rates but no forward buys this year on TV."

Reckitt Benckiser declined to comment for this article.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Lebron James will kick off GOtv's weekend sports lineup when his Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Washington Wizards in a game that will be aired at 2:50 a.m. later tonight (actually Saturday morning).

Arsenal's visit to Selhurst Park to take on Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace will be televised on Supersport Select 2 at 4:45 PM tomorrow while a number of other La Liga and Serie A games will follow.

Lebron James
As the battle over whether to migrate to digital platforms fades with the regulator CAK clearly trouncing the three dissenting media stations, focus now shifts to what is actually on offer on the current platforms meaning marketing and advertising will now take centre stage.

GOtv, announced by Ipsos-Synovate to be the leading digital platform in the country with a 37 per cent market share is locked in battle with Startimes who are at 23 per cent.

Bamba TV, owned by Lancia Digital, a fully-owned subsidiary of Radio Africa Group has entered the fray and is pushing its product hard.

The next few months even as the three media houses bring in their own decoders through their Africa Digital Network consortium will tell who emerges top.

Viewers should expect premium offerings as the rival platforms battle to win hearts and minds.


Kenya officially commissioned the largest single geothermal power plant in the world yesterday at Ol Karia yesterday.

The Ol Karia I units 4 & 5 will do 150 Megawatts of power adding to a similar amount being done by Ol Karia 4.

An additional 70Mw will be installed in the same place bringing the total to 350Mw.

The Japanese ambassador to Kenya Mr. Tatsushi Teradaa, told the gathered guests to the commissioning ceremony that Japan was keen to continue its support by financing a similar size plant at Ol Karia 5.

The completed project was commissioned by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda who expressed admiration for the strides made by Kenya in geothermal power.

Kenya is currently providing Rwanda with two geothermal experts to assist Kigali in developing its geothermal potential.

Japan through its external funding implementing agency, JICA, has been key in development of OL Karia geothermal fields.

To put together these power plants has taken Japanese and Korean technology.

The power plants have been built by Hyundai Heavy Industries, the South Korean conglomerate.

The Turbines were supplied by Toshiba of Japan.

The substation and transmission lines were done by KEC International of India.

Sinopec of China did the steamfield development.

Development of the steamfield was financed by World Bank and KfW of Germany.

The consultant for the design of the project and supervision of implementation was SKM of New Zealand.

Financing of actual construction was by KfW.

Financing of the power plant was by European Investment Bank (EIB)and French Agency for Development (AfD) - not to be confused with its more commercial arm, Proparco which finances projects on more commercial terms.

The substation and transmission line were financed by EIB.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


GOtv is the market leader in set top boxes among those who have them in Kenya, a new Ipsos-Synovate study shows.

The study was carried in the first part of February 2015.

GOtv with 37% leads Startimes at 23%. DStv is at 20% while Zuku is at 16%. Independent set top box vendors have 5%.

35% of Kenyans have migrated.

The information is crucial for advertisers who need real numbers of reach before committing funds.

Safaricom, the largest advertiser on TV said it will take a wait and see approach. "Going digital we are going to need certified numbers of eyeballs distribution," Nzioka Waita, the Director, Corporate Afairs told Nairobitech earlier today.