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Kenya’s March elections delay switch to digital TV

By Julius Odeke

With only 51 days to elections in Kenya, the high court has ordered that the date for the switch off of the analogue television signal be delayed, preferably until after the March poll.

Justice Isaac Lenaola said an immediate move to digital would be unfair to Kenyans keen to follow the polls on TV.

The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) had wanted to turn it off last month, ahead of a 2015 global deadline.

But a consumer group challenged its decision, arguing that Kenyans had not been given enough time to prepare.

Judge Lenaola told the CCK and Cofek to agree on a new date, which he felt should be after the March 2013 elections.

The last elections in December 2007 were highly contentious in Kenya, where television is the main news source in cities and towns.

Allegations of electoral fraud following the results ignited ethnic tensions, leading to the deaths of some 1,300 people and forcing some 600,000 from their homes.

The judge ordered the two organisations to appear before him on 20 February should they fail to agree on a new date.

In the neighbouring Uganda the date for switch off was supposed to be on December 31, 2012, however, it was extended to a yet to be established date.

Migration from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting was agreed to under the United Nations (UN) umbrella with a deadline of June 2015 and that is when Uganda Communications Commission is also optimistic to implement the switch off.

The same exercise is, therefore, taking place across the whole world.

Some countries have already started using digital terrestrial broadcasting while others are still in the process of changing to digital.

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