Kenya’s Smart TV goes off air

Kenya is proving to be something of a graveyard for pay-TV operators. Just over two years ago it was GTV which went bust. Now it is Smart TV which has gone off air, with backers Next Generation Broadcasting having pulled out of the joint-venture with Transmex. GTV was a DTH player while Smart TV is DVB-T2 terrestrially-based, using digital frequencies leased from transmission operator Signet (itself a subsidiary of Kenya Broadcasting Corp).

Smart TV suffered a number of expensive mis-steps, not least initially deciding on DVB transmission and ordering a number of set-top boxes prior to the government deciding on DVB-T2 technology, meaning another batch of more expensive boxes.

There were also legal arguments with local network broadcasters which argued that Smart TV used their exclusive content without paying for the rights. Smart TV won that battle, but sales were slow.

The closure left the company with debts of more than KSh100 million, ($1.2m) and no assets. The operation had about 2,000 subscribers.

DStv claims about 100,000 DTH subscribers while DTH rival Zuku (operated by Wananchi) number about 35,000.

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