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Wednesday, August 29, 2012


In Accra and in Nairobi tonight, DStv is set to unveil a new numbering of channels with related content being on adjacent channels - e.g. FTA channels like Citizen, NTV, KTN, K24 ideally following each other, while movies, Africa Magic and so on will all be regrouped to make it easier for viewers to navigate.

During the unveiling, Multichoice will also announce new High-Definition channels that have been added to its bouquets including Box Office which will be available for premium subscribers and where latest release movies will be shown before gradually being moved to the other bouquets.

A table laid out at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Ghana DStv event
The use of HD channels is meant to create more room for more content.

This will also allow for content of the same genre say romantic movies to be grouped together and so on.

Multichoice is moving aggressively to protect its turf as new challengers enter its African markets.

Tonight's launch is also expected to directly address issues of content including program repeats and dated movies that were sparked of by this Blog Post.


While unconfirmed reports have it that the posters of letter in  Ghafla Kenya A Hilarious open letter to DsTv and Multichoice later went to Multichoice demanding that the company advertises with them, it is interesting that a rival platform was very keen to jump on the tweetfeed and FB comments generated to market itself and call for people to migrate to them, never mind a month or two ago they were under similar siege.

I've read the post and while some of the issues raised may be genuine, I think Kenyans also want too much for too little. That or rivals are now using trolls to malign other brands online.

Bottom line is, for those who remember embracing GTV and Smart TV, you do have to run a sustainable business model to survive and secondly, it is important to benchmark a brand against best practices elsewhere.

For starters, when it comes to international channels such as Discovery, E! Entertainment, Nat Geo and so on, these are pass through channels that re-transmit content as it comes without repackaging.

So the Discovery World and Nat Geo as you see them here is how they are seen on other continents.

Indeed, when the same issue was raised by DStv subscribers about repeat of marathons in South Africa, the matter was referred to Discovery Channel folks who responded as follows:

"There are usually marathons at the weekend on Discovery World which tend to work quite well.

We would like to give all viewers a chance to see the whole series if they miss the first or second episode hence the repeat of Biblical Mysteries series last Sunday.

The omnibus was repeated twice since different viewers tune in at 6am and at midday. It might happen that some heavy viewers will see the same episode more than once especially with mini-series marathons.

We appreciate the feedback and will take it into consideration when planning marathons on Discovery World in the future."

According to Multichoice, when it comes to acquiring these channels:

"Essentially, MultiChoice does not create the channels it broadcasts. This also means that we do not have direct editorial control over the channel schedules and content."

Secondly, on complaints about the content on channels like Africa Magic and Africa Swahili Magic: We are not producing enough local content that can be aired n these shows. There is no point in complaining about the repeat of TZ movies on Swahili Magic or Naija and SA movies and shows yet we are not producing our own content to compete.

Multichoice has in fact been pushing for people with local content to come forward it is willing to support it. 

Multichoice has two content producers: (Electronic Media Network) MNET and Supersport.

On each at least it has tried to assist in content development on the continent. MNEt has Africa Magic channels while Supersport now shows local football league matches.

Recently, the Multichoice Nairobi office was upgraded to a regional hub overseeing 10 countries as the company scales up the push for local content.

And as much as competition is good in the market place resulting in better products and pricing, at least Multichoice has been consistent.

Gushing over new entrants has seen GTV and Smart TV converts burn in the end only to leave DStv in the market.

So as far as reliability, the company still has reputational currency and will probably be trusted more than a newer flashy rival.

How the market plays out we are yet to see but wholesale criticism of brands without taking time to understand the business models behind them (GTV and Smart clearly showed the wrong market and pricing strategy will burn you) is disingenuous.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kiptiness vs Wangusi for CCK's top job

The highly political and precarious position of the Director-General of the Communications Commission of Kenya is set to be filled after acting DG Francis Wangusi, CCK legal head John Omo and former CCK and Telkom Kenya lawyer Stephen Kiptiness were all short-listed for the job.

The previous CCK boss Charles Njoroge left in acrimonious circumstances after falling out with the board. It is suspected that powerful interests both in the telecommunications industry and in the Media conspired to see his removal for threatening their interests.

The post will be filled at a time when serious issues have to be addressed:

One, digital migration is about to take place and the billions at stake have seen the war over customers rise to a whole new level - expected to even go higher as Multichoice and Startimes Digital rush to roll out services across the country.

Simple mathematics - we have about 4million TV sets in this country. Each of those, theoretically, should have Digital set top box.

Set top boxes go for anywhere from Sh3000 - 7000. Working with the lower figure, 3000 by 4million sets....You get the picture.

Related, is the issue of frequencies - Njoroge fought with broadcasters because he sought to repossess frequencies that were issued under dubious circumstances in the first place and that media owners wanted to retain control of upon digital migration.

You see, one frequency yields 18 digital channels. The likes of Royal Media, Radio Africa and Nation Media Group want to retain control of these channels when they migrate but authorities have insisted that everyone will be allocated channels according to the content they can produce. A battle royale awaits the potential DG here.

Elections are also coming up and certain regulations, including those covering hate speech, the internet and social media are likely to be pushed so again the DG has his work cut out for him.

Not to mention, the issue of switching off bogus handsets and blocking unregistered SIM cards is also underway and again powerful interests will seek to sway the process.

Then the mother of them all, the issue of Mobile Termination Rates (MTRs). The last time CCK brought them down, Airtel unleashed a price war on the market that turned the market upside down and forced all other operators to bring their prices down too.

CCK has been seeking to bring these MTRs down further but telcos notably Safaricom and Orange have been against the idea.

That being said, who stands the best chance to be DG?

Francis Wangusi
Francis Wangusi (pictured right) has the inside lane - He has already been acting, and has, at least till now, not ruffled any feathers.

He is likely to be seen as safe and most likely lobbyists will push Information minister Samuel Poghisio, to appoint him.

John Omo who last time lost out to Charles Njoroge is on the short list but one would think he would have been chosen to act in Njoroge's absence but he was not. That is telling.

Stephen Kiptiness, is as sharp as they come, and is a look-you-in-the-eye straight forward kind of guy. He knows his stuff but the fact that he has been away from CCK for some time might work against him.

He was the Legal Head at Telkom Kenya and would probably make the best DG from the country's perspective.

As an outsider some things Kiptiness could probably be relied on to do is to come up with a proper spectrum allocation policy, at TKL he always railed against CCK for dragging its feet on this.

He could possibly come down hard on Safaricom being one of the TKL brass who believed that Safaricom rode on TKL's infrastructure to become what it became. But on the other hand, TKL and Safaricom had come to agree on some things, like the need to halt the reduction in MTRs.

All said, it is most likely Wangusi will take the job. Kiptiness could well be a future DG.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


We speakin' billions!
Adan Mohammed wants you to use ATM's and do mobile banking to save on costs associated with visiting the branch to do transactions. That was the message the suave CEO gave at the investor briefing held at the Intercontinental Hotel to report the bank's half-year earnings for the period ended 30th June 2012.

The numbers were good. On the back of high interest rates, BBK raked in Sh6.3billion in profits before taxes for the six months to end of June. Compared to a similar period last year when it reported Sh5.3billion,  growth in this regard was 18 per cent.

It did this by holding costs down. BBK did not accept expensive deposits and therefore it did not have fork out large interest payments on deposits.

In the year, Adan informed investors, BBK did Sh40billion of new lending. Their loan book now stands at Sh101billion. Most of this is strictly prudential lending with the bank emphasizing risk management.

Indeed, room for growth is ample - the bank is capitalized to the tune of Sh27billion meaning theoretically it can lend up to 10 times that (Sh270billion) yet it has only put out Sh101bn.

BBK is now ranked third in profitability at the half-year mark after KCB (Sh8.5billion) and Equity Bank (Sh7.6billion). The bank lost its position as the most profitable in the country last year as aggressive expansion and customer recruitment at the two local banks yielded fruit.

To keep costs down, BBK is emphasizing ATM and mobile banking. One of the ways they have done this is by eliminating ATM transaction fees. 

They have also launched Hallo mobile banking allowing you to transact via mobile and this is a service you can register to from the screen of your phone without having to go to the bank.

Going forward, Adan said the continued imbalance between what Kenyans are importing and what they export is likely to put pressure on the shilling so in other words, the shilling could weaken in the coming months.