Digital Kenya is responsible for ensuring the country migrates from analogue to digital television broadcasting before the worldwide deadline of 2015.
The migration to Digital Television broadcasting is a Government initiative resulting from the decision made at the Regional Radio Conference of 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland (RRC-06). The decision requires countries in the RRC planning area to migrate from analogue to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting technologies by 17th June 2015.
Kenya’s migration from Analogue to Digital broadcasting is being spearheaded by Digital Kenya. In Kenya, the digital migration process was started on December 9, 2009 when the President, Mwai Kibaki, launched the signal in Nairobi.
At the onset, Kenya had adopted DVB-T technology. However, due to advancement in technology, the Government made a decision to upgrade this technology to DVB-T2 in December 2010. Compared to DVB –T, DVB-T2 offers better sound and picture quality; has capacity for more channels; has wider geographic coverage; has improved security features and it can accommodate high definition, standard definition, mobile TV and digital audio.
Technology is an interesting necessity, where the old struggle, the young conquer and the in betweens are confused. It is with these in betweens that the confusion of digital migration in Kenya took an unnecessary drama. Digital migration is a very simple switch from analogue to digital broadcasting, which is better quality in sound and visual. So while they are buying the latest phones or tablets why the big fuss over this amazing change.
Imagine if the UK hadn’t quite made it through their digital TV switch, which started in 2007 and completed in 2012 and the viewers would not be able to enjoy all the added benefits of news, information and entertainment that they now are. They had a huge number of stations to switch, but we have a fraction and that fraction is acting like whining sharks.
Advertising budgets in Kenya remain highest in television and print. Thus so far we have bodies which have both these set ups and they are able to cleverly distribute it amongst the group. But with digital migration the pieces of cake will get smaller and operational expenses have always been the fat cost, so how will they cope? And not to have the benefit to cash in on the set up boxes and sell to the viewer directly has made them even more anxious.
Their focus should be on research, development, production budgets and promotion of local talent as much as possible. There has been significant change in the last 5 years and local content has improved immensely from talk shows, TV serials, reality competitions but more can still be done. And this more also lies in paying the producers, actors, and technicians better. There is a very unusual celebrity culture in Kenya; a news anchor is a bigger star than a musician. Fortunately things are changing but not a phenomenal level and with digital migration, more TV stations means less recognition probably for anybody because of fragmentation.
I see redundancies coming up from these media houses in the coming days and far too much pressure on the Sales team. This may in turn affect the quality of programming and perhaps only the biggest media houses that almost defied the decision for digital migration will survive because of huge investment saviors. The other interesting thing was when they tried to rally public support after being switched off they got a dead end. The viewer didn’t bother enough; Kenyans carried on with their lives pretty much the same as everyday. This is a great indicator that they are using other sources for entertainment or news.
Digital migration is possibly one of the new steps to improving technology and connectivity and no change is easy for anybody or country. There is a solar plane attempting an around the world flying record, so belt up, suit up and get on with