DIGITAL (TV) MIGRATION – WHAT NEXT?

It has certainly been an eventful Christmas as far as the Migration to Digital TV in Kenya is concerned. In my previous posts, I have covered topics such as why the migration; the benefits of digital TV; how to migrate and other FAQs. Today I will do an update to summarize where we are so far:

2006

The International Telecommunications Union sets the date for the whole world to migrate to digital TV by 2015. The government of Kenya decides to do it earlier. CCK has set various deadlines over the years, but the players in the analog TV field together with the Consumer Federation of Kenya have gone to court and had the dates postponed. Time and again.

The State of Affairs in 2013

In order for digital TV to be broadcast, there have to be digital TV signal distributors who are licensed by CCK. At the moment there are two companies licensed to distribute digital signals in Kenya (not to be confused with Pay TV companies). These are Signet which is majorly owned by KBC and Pan Africa Group (PANG) which is a sister company to Star Times. The licensed Pay TV companies put together bouqets of channels to sell to customers, and give this bouquet to either Signet or PANG to distribute countrywide. The local media houses (KTN, NTV, Citizen TV) also wanted a license to distribute digital TV signals, after all.. they have invested in infrastructure for signal distribution countrywide. However, they made a mistake in their license bid and hence don’t have a license to date. That is why they are in court.

CCK went ahead and set the date for digital Migration which was to be done in phases: Nairobi and its environs 13th December 2013, followed by Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and Eldoret on March 30 2014 and the rest of the country by June 30th 204. This was to enable Kenyans to start enjoying the benefits of Digital TV, we don’t always have to wait for the last minute, or do we?

2013 Deadline Postponed; and then Postponed Again
The local media houses went to court to hear their case against CCK (why they were denied a license) heard. A high court postponed the deadline from 13th December to 23rd December so the court could have time to decide the suit. The high court dismissed the suit on 23rd December and CCK set new dates for Nairobi switch off to 26th December.

Meanwhile as CCK set the new date, the media houses went to the court of appeal to well, appeal the high court decision. However, it would not make sense to let the digital migration continue while the case was still in court by the main players in Kenya’s TV industry. Therefore the court of appeal judge set the date of determination to February 6th 2014 when the ruling on the case will be made. Meanwhile, the analog signals are back on air till then.

So What Now?

Now we wait for the ruling by the court of appeal in February. However, it does not hurt to go digital as digital frequencies are already in the air.

Here is what to do:

    • Learn as much as possible about digital Migration. A good place to start is the Digital Kenya website.
A set top box

A set top box

 

  • You will need a set top box to watch Digital TV. You can get a free to air digital box that you make no monthly payments whatsoever, just like buying a DVD player. With Signet’s broadcasting, many of the channels you are currently watching on your TV will be available. You don’t have to get Pay TV (Star Times, GoTv) but you can get decoders from these companies that are also free-to-air, no monthly payments. Here is a list of CCK-approved set top boxes for your selection. Be prepared.
  • When the ruling is given on February 6th, whether to postpone till the final deadline (June 2015) or whether CCK will set new dates yet again, digital TV is really for your benefit as an end consumer. The current “analog” TV stations are the ones who will suffer losses, but as an end consumer, digital TV will enable you to have clearer signals, access to more channels and content etc only by purchasing a set top box. Don’t do it for the government, do it for yourself.
  • If you are already using Zuku TV (cable TV) or DSTv (satellite) you are already on digital TV. Forget that misinformed Business Daily article that said viewers of Zuku and DSTv need new decoders. You have nothing to worry about, continue enjoying digital TV

CHANNELS ON GOTV

Following the postponement of the switch to digital TV from December 13th to December 23rd when the ruling when will be made, Nairobians can now relax until then. The global deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union is June 2015. Guys, you don’t have to wait until then to switch to digital TV, you can do it now and enjoy high quality broadcasting, more choices of TV stations, as well as richer content such as ability to view program lineups.

Digitika na GoTv

Digitika na GoTv

 

GoTv Kenya is making it possible for guys to switch to digital TV by offering 3 plans:

1. GoTv Open

The cost for the first instalment is Sh3,399/- which includes a decoder and 2 months GOtv Plus subscription. The second instalment of Sh2,600/- is due at the end of the 2 months for those not able to continue with pay TV. No more monthly subscriptions. Below are the channels on GoTV Open:

  • Citizen TV
  • GO Channel
  • Kiss TV
  • KTN
  • NTVU
  • ZNBC
  • KBCTV

2. GoTv with Monthly Subscription of Ksh. 599
he cost for the first instalment is Sh3,399/- which includes a decoder and 2 months GOtv Plus subscription. After that, a monthly fee of Ksh. 599 for 21 channels.

  • Africa Magic Swahili
  • AfricaMagic Movies
  • AfricaMagic World
  • BET
  • Citizen TV
  • E! Entertainment Television
  • Kiss TV
  • KTN
  • NTV
  • SONY MAX
  • ZNBC
  • KBCTV
  • SuperSport Select 1
  • KidsCo
  • Nickelodeon
  • Style
  • Al Jazeera
  • TBN
  • Channel O
  • One Gospel

3. GoTv Plus
The cost for the first instalment is Sh3,399/- which includes a decoder and 2 months GOtv Plus subscription. After that, a monthly fee of Ksh. 849 for 32 channels.

  • Africa Magic Swahili
  • AfricaMagic Movies
  • AfricaMagic World
  • BET
  • Blackbelt TV
  • Citizen TV
  • E! Entertainment Television
  • e.TV Africa
  • Kiss TV
  • KTN
  • M-Net Movies Zone
  • NTV
  • SONY
  • SONY MAX
  • Telemundo
  • ZNBC
  • KBCTV
  • SuperSport Blitz
  • SuperSport Select 1
  • SuperSport Select 2
  • Disney Junior
  • KidsCo
  • Nickelodeon
  • Style
  • Nat Geo Wild
  • Al Jazeera
  • CNN International
  • TBN
  • Channel O
  • MTV Base
  • One Gospel

For a description of these channels, see the GoTv website. If interested, contact a GoTv dealer near you!

NAIROBI’S ANALOG TV VIEWERS CAN NOW BREATHE… UNTIL DECEMBER 23

The government’s plan to switch off Nairobi’s analog TV signals for digital broadcasting on December 13 has beenpostponed to December 23rd. The High Court has suspended the planned switch (to digital) to allow determination of a suit filed by media houses challenging the Government plan.

digitalbox Nairobis Analog TV Viewers Can Now Breathe... until December 23

A digital set top box to cost about Ksh. 5,000

The planned migration was to start with Nairobi by December 13, 2013, followed by major towns (Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and Eldoret) on March 30 next year, and finally the rest of the country by June 2014.
Digital migration will ensure that the country complies with the worldwide analogue switch off deadline of 17th June 2015.

Summary of the case

  • Basically, Nation Media Group, The Standard Group and Citizen TV (the petitioners) are not opposed to the digital migration. They are only opposed to the manner in which it is occuring
  • The 3 media houses had also applied for licenses to distribute digital signals, but had been denied under ‘unclear’ circumstances. If the switch off happens as planned, then they have to give their content to the licensed distributors (Signet and Pan Africa Group (PANG)) in order for viewers to continue receiving their signals. They will suffer major losses as a result.
  • Another petitioner in the case is the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) who think that the timing is unfair. I would say by 2015 we have to switch anyway, so the earlier we do it, the better. The initial deadline had been 2012 actually, it was postponed to 2013, and here we are now. If you can switch now, just do it to start enjoying the benefits of digital TV which include better signal and sound quality, and richer content. You don’t have to wait until 2015.
  • The ruling on the case will take place on December 23rd so will update you guys.

Read more about the case here.

Why You Should Switch to GoTv

For Nairobi residents, the government deadline to switch from analog to digital TV is December 13th. I don’t think many (residents) are aware, and for those in the know, they hoping that the court will post pone the deadline yet again. The hearing for the case starts on December 6th (tomorrow) so I will keep my ears and eyes open on how it all goes.

Which is the Best Digital TV Provider?

In terms of channel offering, DSTv has everything. Movies, music, sports, documentaries, cartoons etc. But it is costly to the average Kenyan.

Which why Multichoice introduced GoTv. Offering all (major) local channels (KBC, K24, NTv, KTN, Citizen TV), some Supersport select channels, and a reasonable host of other digital channels, installation and monthly subscriptions are affordable. In total, there are 35 channels on offer.

GoTv

GoTv

Here are the two plans for GoTv:

  1. PayTv: The cost for the first installment is KSh 3,399/- which includes a decoder and 2 months GOtv Plus subscription. After that you can choose to continue with GoTv Plus for Ksh. 849 per month or just GoTv for Ksh. 599 a month
  2. GoTv Open: The cost for the first instalment is Sh3,399/- which includes a decoder and 2 months GOtv Plus subscription. The second instalment of Sh2,600/- is due at the end of the 2 months for those not able to continue with pay TV. No more monthly payments

To view the full list of channels available on those two plans (pay TV and Free TV), check out the listing on their website.

With GoTv, you don’t need a satellite dish, your ordinary aerial will do. What you need is just the decoder and you are ready to go.

The average cost of a digital decoder (or set top box as they are commonly referred to) is Ksh. 5,000 so the GoTv offer of Ksh. 3,999 is not a bad deal. Further, GoTv has teamed up with K24 to offer viewers 3 decoders every day so tune in to K24 and hopefully it could be your lucky day.

Physical Location
You can get GoTv agents at the following locations:

Westlands 
Located on Westlands off Karuna Road.

T-Mall 
Located on Langata/Mbagathi Road, at T-Mall Ground Floor, next to Tusky’s Supermarket.

GreenSpan Mall 
Located at Donholm, next to Tusky’s Supermarket.

Tel+Email
Self-Services Tel: +254 711 066 555, +254 204 236 555
Email: kenya@gotv.co.za

Digital TV Switch – FAQs

Here is a list of 5 of the most asked questions about the planned switch off of analog TV signals:

1. Is the deadline still on December 13th now that there is a court case to stall it?

digital TV Digital TV Switch   FAQs

Digital TV in Kenya

Well, the jury is still out for this one. The case hearing starts next week (December 6th) so I wonder if the judge will have enough time to hear all arguments before making the decision.

85% of Kenyans rely on analog TV for their news, entertainment and whatever else you folks use your TVs for. A majority may not even be aware of the looming deadline for Nairobi and its environs. For you to get the digital signals, you will have to buy a set top box that costs an average of Ksh. 5,000. This is a high cost for many unprepared Kenyans.

In the meantime, it’s better to be prepared because the December 13th deadline for switching off analog signals has actually been gazetted (meaning it’s law).
Unless the court overturns the deadline, and even then it will be more of an ‘extension’ because in the end we MUST all switch by 2015. I know we are Kenyans and we do things last minute, but must we wait for the deadline before switching to digital TV?

2. Do I need to have an aerial to watch Digital TV? Should I throw away the current one? (ok maybe nobody has asked the second question )

Yes. You do need your aerial. You will then connect the aerial to the set top box, and then connect the set top box to your TV. Like Smartjoker shows in this video.

3. Do I have to pay a monthly subscription for Digital TV?

No, you don’t have to pay any subscription fees for free digital TV. Once you buy the set top box, that is it.

However, should you want additional premium channels on offer from companies such as GoTv and Star Times, you will have to pay their monthly rates.

Although Star Times now have a non-subscription set top box on which you will receive their free-to-air channels.

4. Where can I get a set top box? Which is the best?

Try this pdf list of CCK approved set top boxes.

At the moment, the only set top box I have used is Star Times (their Ksh. 500 per month option). With it, you can easily upgrade to get more channels. However, for local channels it only has K24 and KBC Tv. Some of my friends have used GoTv and I think they pay about Ksh. 1,000 monthly.

For free-to-air channels, I will say go with your gut

5. Just why are we migrating really?

This is the actual answer:

The Regional Radio communication Conference (RRC) meeting of 2006, in a treaty, set 17th June 2015 as the deadline for all countries to migrate to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting. It is, therefore, a mandatory for countries. Digital broadcasting will result in more efficient use of the spectrum hence more valuable spectrum can be released and used for other services. The rest of the world is migrating to digital broadcasting and analogue broadcasting will not be protected from interference after 2015.

However, digital TV guarantees better quality. Read my previous post answering why we have to migrate.

For all these questions, find the answers on the Digital Kenya website. Follow the conversation on facebook and on twitter.

List of CCK Approved Set-Top-Box Vendors

With the digital TV migration deadline looming for Nairobi and its environs (December 13th), here is a list of set top box vendors (decoders) and the average prices, as well contact information of the vendors. They are so many it wouldn’t make sense to copy paste the information here, you can download (and print it) if it interests you.

banner 02 List of CCK Approved Set Top Box Vendors

A set top box

There are free-to-air set top boxes that you buy only once and you pay no further subscription fees. The average cost for such is Ksh. 5,000. I know this is a little too much, too sudden for Nairobians, and we might all be surprised (!) when our analog TV signals are no more and all we are staring at is rice flickering across the screen.

The pay TV set top boxes are GoTv and Star Times.

You don’t have to buy a new TV to be able to make the switch to Digital TV, the set top box will do the conversion for you. However, if you still want to go ahead and buy a digital TV (the decoder is inbuilt) you can still do so.

For more information about the digital migration, check out the Digital Kenya website. Follow the conversation on facebook and on twitter.

Deadline for Switching to Digital TV set to December 13th in Nairobi

If you live in Nairobi, you should be aware that the Digital Kenya Secretariat under CCK has kick-started the Digital TV Migration campaign. The deadline for switching off the analog TV signals is 13th December in Nairobi and its environs. The rest of the country shall follow and by 30th June 2014 the whole of Kenya will be only be viewing digital TV.

digitalTV2 Deadline for Switching to Digital TV set to December 13th in NairobiWelcome to Digital TV

Whether you are ready or not, whether you understand what digital TV is or not, the migration from analog TV to digital will eventually happen. The global deadline is in 2015 but Kenya will switch off the signals a year earlier (by June 2014). I suspect that, because of the notorious Kenyan timing, CCK is trying to ensure that we will actually beat the deadline otherwise we will be lamenting come 2015.

Here is a post that I did in 2011, trying to demystify digital TV.

How to Convert Your TV to Digital

So how do you make your current TV receive digital signals? You need a digital decoder (set top box) that will convert the digital signals into analog so you can watch your TV. The average cost of the decoder is Ksh 5,000.

For a list of approved set top boxes, check out the list on the Digital Migration website.

There are two types of decoders: (1) free-to-air decoders that you buy once and watch only free-to-air channels. There is no monthly payment fee.

(2) pay-TV set boxes such as GoTV and Star Times. These have attract monthly subscription fees depending on the number of channels you are subscribing to.

If you already have satellite or cable TV such as Supersport or Zuku, then you are already a digital TV consumer. These attract higher initial installation charges and monthly subscriptions.

So exactly what are the benefits of digital TV? Well, we that is a topic we shall review next week.

Watch this space for more on Digital TV.