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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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


There are more than enough Free to Air channels in the country, the Communications Authority has said.

The authority responding to a group of three FTA stations that has withdrawn their signals from the available digital platforms said the three were not the only source of local news.

"The Authority has licensed more than 40 Free-to-Air channels on the digital platforms, with over 30 on SIGNET and 8 on PANG Platform," Director General Francis Wangusi said.

"Free-to-Air channels currently providing news include KBC, K24, Kass TV, GBS, EBRU TV, 3 Stone TV and Njata TV, KTS, Pwani TV and Lolwe TV. News is provided in English, Swahili and vernacular languages."

There has been talk that some of the other FTA channels will put together their own news teams poached from the three media houses that are operating under the consortium of Africa Digital Network.

In a full page ad the CAK went further to dispute that 90 per cent of Kenyans were locked out of TV screens pointing out that the three media houses had only 11 analogue sites and the coverage afforded by the digital platforms now dwarfs the coverage they had.

"The three media houses have the avenue to air their broadcasts through the digital networks currently available," the CAK said in a paid advert in The Star.

"They voluntarily withdrew their content from the available digital platforms SIGNET, PANG and DSTV, yet these have even a wider reach than the analogue transmissions the media had before. KTN, NTV, QTV and Citizen TV only had 11 analogue transmission stations collectively, which was a very small proportion of what the digital network coverage currently offers."

The authority said accusations of favouring the Pan-African Group with frequencies were untrue pointing out that in fact, the analogue frequencies the ADN trio was using for transmission are the ones it needs in order to issue out for digital transmission.

Media Houses are said to be  losing over Sh60 million daily from advertising revenue.

A picture by NTV's Trend Anchor Larry Madowo depicted an empty newsroom.

The Kenyan impasse is beginning to generate international headlines and is seen as a case study for many countries yet to migrate,


It is emerging that striking media houses do not know when they will be back on air.

"It could be one day, it could be two days, it could be a week, a month..." Sam Shollei, CEO of Standard Group told his KTN staff on Monday.

Anxiety has been high at the TV station in wake of the abrupt switch off from analogue transmission.

KTN along with NTV and Citizen TV made the decision to pull their content off all platforms including those they had commercial agreements with like DStv.

Staff have been left in limbo wondering if their jobs are done.

In particular, commercial division sales staff who depend on selling TV slots for their commissions are in panic.

Shollei sought to reassure the staff that everything was being done to remedy the situation.

He told Managing Editor Joe Ageyo to use the time off air to think of what content they will use to fill the three TV stations they will have.

Shollei pleaded with his staff not to move to K24 or KBC in the meantime as the only Free to Air stations start circling for ripe talent from striking stations.

A key risk to remaining off air is the migration of talent and content to other outlets that are already showing.

Other staff might decide to go into their own productions while advertisers may opt to demand for hard numbers before committing advertising dollars to the stations given that they will be lacking from two of the biggest platforms.

Friday, February 13, 2015


TV Media Houses have until midnight tonight to switch off analogue transmission and migrate to digital platform with immediate effect, the Communications Authority has said.
A tough talking Director General Francis Wangusi said following a ruling by a full bench of the Supreme Court that migration deadlines remain as set by the regulator that CA will forcibly switch off any media house that fails to comply with the directive.
In Nairobi and major towns, the media houses will have to switch off immediately since the deadlines to migrate had been set for 31 December 2014 and February 2, 2015.
The third phase of the migration will be on 30 March when outlying towns like Garissa, Kapenguria, Kabarnet, Migori, Voi and Namanga will be finally switched off analogue.
Three media houses, Nation (NTV), Royal Media (Citizen TV) and Standard Group (KTN) have been transmitting analogue signals after obtaining temporary orders from the Supreme Court to continue doing so until their case was determined.
Sitting in Nairobi, the Supreme Court issued the ruling that:
(i)                  That the analogue switch-off timelines remain as scheduled by the Authority
(ii)                That the Supreme Court has withdrawn orders earlier issued to allow the three broadcasters to continue broadcasting on the analogue platform
(iii)               That the Authority restores the self-provisioning authorization and the requisite frequencies issued to the three media houses
(iv)              That the three media houses abide by ALL the conditions that had earlier accompanied the grant of authorization for self-provisioning
(v)                That the authority has duly complied with the directives and orders issued by the court on 29th September 2014
Comment was not immediately available from the media houses but notably they did not carry the news of the Supreme Court ruling in the daytime newscasts.

“Let them come we will give them a license they go compete with others,” Wangusi said. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


A possible configuration error in one of leading mobile operator Safaricom's core routers left users in and around parts of Nairobi locked out of the network earlier this morning.

Confirming the outage, Safaricom's Director of Corporate Affairs, Nzioka Waita, said areas where users were affected included Westlands, Karen, Langata, CBD and Kinoo areas.  

The problem was still being investigated by Safaricom engineers to establish the cause as of writing of this article.

However, such core network outages are usually caused by configuration errors in one or more of the core routers e.g. a network change control error.

This could be due to a software upgrade or a keystroke error by a data engineer causing traffic blockage.

Such a router placed in a key distribution point can cause massive outages.

Friday, February 6, 2015


A tough talking Communications Authority of Kenya laid down 4 conditions three media houses will have to meet if they are to get their self-provisioning digital broadcast license back within 7 days.

As first time offenders, they will each pay a fine of Sh500,000 for the irresponsible adverts they ran regarding competitors.

In another country they would not even be broadcasting right now, a tough talking Director General Francis Wangusi said at a press conference at the regulator's boardroom.

They are also commit not to use their media platforms for selective and misleading agreements including refusal to carry advertisement on digital migration.

They will also commit not to engage in anti-competitive behavior and respect the laws and regulations governing competition.

They they will note and comply with the requirement for type approval of all electronic equipment, read decoders.

Reporters for the three media houses turned up in force but met a defiant Wangusi who refused to back down on questions of local investor rights and the right of GOtv and Startimes to carry Free to Air channels.

To be clear, the license the media houses will get is not a BSD (Broadcast Signal Distributor) license such as SIGNET (GOtv) and PANG (Startimes) have, it is a pay-TV license.

The next BSD license, Wangusi said, if it will be issued, will be by international tender and there is no guarantee that any of the media houses will get it.

In any case, he pointed out, a three million TV household market like Kenya's can barely support two BSDs so only after a study has shown compelling evidence for the commercial viability  of the third BSD.

The three media houses, once the court case is over, the DG said, will go to one or both of the currently existing BSDs.

NTV noted that K24 and KBC Channel 1 had gone back to analogue. Wangusi noted this was illegal and said he had summoned the CEOs of the two channels.

Indeed, as the press conference went on, Ian Fernandes of Media Max (K24) stood outside the DG's office.

Technically, Wangusi noted the frequency band between 470-694 MHz is what we have to play with for digital TV transmission. Some of this bandwidth is held by the three broadcasters for their analogue signals which they are still transmitting.


The Communications Authority of Kenya is shortly set to make public its decision regarding the self-provisioning license it had issued to a consortium of three media owners for distribution of their TV signals.

The Authority confiscated the license after the consortium barraged viewers with negative ads regarding rivals GOtv and Startimes and asking Kenyans to buy decoders that were yet to be approved b authorities.

The decision will be issued by CAK chairman Ben Gituku.

We will update with the details....

The notice:

Press Briefing on The Authority Administrative decision with respect to the self-provisioning license for Africa Digital Network Ltd
Following the Authority’s administrative decision to suspend the temporary authorization granted to Africa Digital Network Limited to roll out their self-provisioning digital signal distribution, the Authority’s Board of Directors have reached a decision on the way forward and wishes to convey the status of the same.