Kenya: Supreme Court to rule on digital TV order

Kenya’s Supreme Court rules today (April 11th) on whether to suspend the decision of the Court of Appeal that ordered the award of digital licences and frequencies to the Standard Group Limited, Nation Media Group and Royal Media Services. This is after the government appealed the decision on Thursday. Appearing before Justices Jackton Ojwang and Smokin Wanjala, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) and two other foreign media investors applied for the suspension of the decision. Court of Appeal judges Roselyne Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and David Maraga last month ruled that the three media houses had legitimate expectations having invested over Sh40 billion (€3.33m) in the communication industry.

The court also barred the Pan-African Network Group (Pang), which hosts Star Times television, from taking part in a fresh tendering process.  Aggrieved by the court’s decision, the Government appealed to the Supreme Court on grounds that the Court of Appeal violated procurement rules. The Judges in the Supreme Court will determine whether to suspend the implementation of the decision. The switch-off date for analogue signals was extended to September.

The Court of Appeal also ordered the Government to advertise tenders for the digital licences. Pang’s BSD licence was nullified by the Appellate Court, which said the firm did not deserve the treatment it was accorded by CAK as per the ratification and implementation of digital migration. The Court of Appeals had said the CAK was not the body envisaged under Articles 33 and 34 of the Constitution as a free and impartial body to regulate media licensing. “Even if the Government promises in a manner that offends the Constitution, doctrine of legitimate expectation cannot be used to claim a licence and therefore appeal dismissed,” said Justice Musinga.

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