Pay-TV hit by Kenyan authorities

Kenya’s media regulator is hitting out at the nation’s three main digital pay-TV providers, StarTimes Group, Multichoice’s GOtv and the Pan-African Network as well as broadcasting distribution company Signet.

Earlier in April the Supreme Court of Kenya ruled in favour of three media outfits (Nation Media, Standard Media and Royal Media) which had argued that the country was not ready for its analogue switch off, and adoption of all-digital transmission.

But there’s now been something of a negative consequence in that the Court has stated that the existing digital broadcasters must now cease re-transmitting the country’s local free-to-air network signals. The logic is that the pay-TV operators did not have permission to broadcast the network signals.

Kenya’s Consumer Federation is extremely unhappy. “The disruption in the continued reception of these key channels occasions heavy inconvenience to consumers who are not party to the dispute between the two broadcast signal retailers GOtv and StarTimes on one hand and the three media houses on the other,” the federation said in a statement. “An apology silent on resumption date by the broadcast retailers is certainly not enough. Consumers prepay for the services under the oral and/or written contract of prerequisite FTA channels being part and parcel of all their offerings.”

The Consumer Federation is also unhappy with the State’s Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) which it says should have acted and “rescued” consumers from this debacle. “Ideally, the CAK should have now summoned both the retailers and media houses to a dialogue meeting to hasten their negotiations. Even then, consumers must be compensated for the period the FTA’s have been off-air,” the statement continued. Backed by section four of the consumer protection Act 2012, the federation threatens that in seven days they may proceed with a class action suit against GOtv, StarTimes and CAK.

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