| Bedah Mengo |
NAIROBI (Xinhua) – Following the recent announcement that the analogue signal will be switched off, Nairobi resident George Odungo knew he has to move fast to avoid being cut off from watching TV.
He went to buy a set-top box early last week. “I went to a supermarket in the city center and bought a free-to-air set-top- box at 38 US dollars. That is what I wanted because the pay TV one comes with monthly charges that I cannot manage,” recounted Odungo on Saturday, adding that the gadget was tested before he bought it.
Having secured the device, a joyful Odungo went home and connected the set-top box with his TV, effectively becoming digital TV compliant.
“I was a happy man. I scrolled through the listed channels and saw it was offering so many of them, a good number local ones which I never knew existed while a few others were international,” he said.
Odungo, who works at a public university in Nairobi, is now watching his television on the digital platform. He is among hundreds of Kenyans in the capital Nairobi who have so far migrated to digital TV signal.
Some are using free-to-air decoders that are now readily accessible because prices have dropped while others are on pay TV platform.
“Digital migration is a good thing,” said Odungo as he smiled. “We should have been told from the beginning its key benefits like having so many channels to watch.”
Odungo noted that when he is bored with local TV channels, he can choose selected international stations, including some from China.
“I can now watch African movies and news and documentaries from China. This would not have been possible if it were not for the digital migration,” he observed.
Gladys Muchene lauded the digital broadcast, noting that it has immense benefits to consumers. “The digital channels are very clear that you do not have to keep on tilting the aerial in case of adverse weather. Besides that, there are many channels to choose from, whether you are using the free-to-air or pay TV set- top-box.”
Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology set December 31, 2014 as the country’s deadline for analogue to digital migration.
However, the switch was partially effected, with Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) switching off only three channels, with top ones having moved to court noting that they need more time.
The channels namely, Citizen TV, KTN and NTV, still operate analogue signals in Nairobi though they can be viewed on digital network.
The push and pull has slowed down the East African nation’s migration to digital TV for over a year. Analysts, however, note that the best way to go about it is for the government to make Kenyans viewers drive the migration process.
“The government should carry out a more targeted and intensive campaign, educating Kenyans on how they would benefit if they buy the set-top boxes. They should use those who have switched as case studies,” noted Bernard Mwaso of Edell IT Solutions in Nairobi.
“Once people get to know how they can benefit, they will buy the step-top-boxes forcing the media players to migrate. For now, the narrative is the migration will disenfranchise people yet consumers would benefit greatly,” Mwaso added.
There are an estimated three million television sets in Nairobi alone, about 1 million viewers having migrated, according to the CAK.