The government has, through the ICT industry regulator Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), ordered MultiChoice Kenya to reinstate all free-to-air (FTA) channels on its GOtv platform following complaints from subscribers that the channels were inaccessible.
In a statement, CA noted that it had received consumer complaints to the effect that some Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) service providers have configured their DTT platforms to bar some DTT set top boxes from receiving free to air (FTA) TV signal from other DTT platforms.
“For example, some GOTV set top boxes have been barred from receiving FTA channels transmitted from PANG DTT platform or vice versa… The said action is contrary to our regulatory directive that all type approved DVB-T2 set top boxes should be configured to receive all FTA channels transmitted from any available DTT platform without any restriction whatsoever. Further, barring reception of FTA broadcasting signals is a violation of licence conditions, the Act and Regulations,” noted CA, adding:
“You all appreciate the importance of the public having unrestricted access to all free to air channels on all platforms during this period the Government is making all efforts to mitigate the effects of Covid-19.”
Following the consumer complaints, CA has now directed all licensed DTT broadcast signal distributors and DTT payTV providers to “unconditionally remove any restrictions and enable reception of all FTA broadcast signals from all other DTT platforms within forty eight hours (48 hours) from March 30, 2020 failure to which the Authority will take necessary measures.”
However, CA’s directive seems to have been made too late in the day, with many subscribers stating that this is the situation they’ve been made to live through since Kenya made the transition to digital from analogue broadcasting over 5 years ago.
Many subscribers note that whenever they fail to renew or their subscription expires, most of the FTA channels disappear from their channel lineup when they scroll, leaving to make do with whatever is available (or left to access) until they pay up.
Others also state that the issue is not just with GOtv but cuts across other service providers as well.
According to the latest industry stats, for the period between October to December 2019, Kenya currently has two broadcast signal distributors; 85 commercial FTA TV stations and one (1) community FTA TV station. In terms of coverage, the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) signals cover 86 per cent of the population, a figure seemingly derived from the slightly over 4 million DTT decoders (or Set Top Boxes – STBs) that have been sold so far.