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Consumer body happy with decision to censure media houses

21 January 2015, 17:01 William Korir

Nairobi - The Consumer Federation of Kenya is happy with a decision to censure 3 media houses for misconduct.

The Communications Authority of Kenya CAK said Wednesday that it had censured the Nation Media Group, Standard Group and Royal Media Services for a message sent out to Kenyans urging them not to buy decoders from digital outlets GOtv and Star Times.

The CA thus banned the three from importing and distributing their own digital set top boxes and also revoked their licenses.

COFEK said that it was pleased the regulator had taken action in what was a move described by many as underhand and ill motivated, saying it was important the regulator be respected.

" COFEK welcomes the decision to instill strict discipline among ICT industry operators without fear or favour in line with Article 34 of the Constitution. We cannot over-emphasize the role of the regulator in ensuring fairness between the industry players and consumers. In that regard, respect for the regulator is a must. In cases where parties have irreconcilable difference of opinion, they must seek arbitration mechanisms through the Courts of Law. Militant approach and or acting outside the confines of the law is unacceptable and must be condemned," the body said.

" In this regard, the 3 media houses under the Africa Digital Network digital consortium have themselves to blame. Indeed, it is difficult for one to find reason to sympathize with them. They have allowed emotions rather than reason to explain their grievances. The message they ran over the weekend was in bad taste and certainly not in good faith. It sought to undermine the digital migration process, the regulator, consumer interest as well an active related matter before the Supreme Court. The message caused severe and an unnecessary anxiety among consumers," it added.

COFEK also said that it had tried to tell the three media houses to desist from spreading the messages but to no avail.                  "Our appeal for a meeting and an immediate stop on the 3 media houses offensive against the two pay-tv firms was never heeded. Be that as it may, we wish to observe as follows;

(a)   In order that the all-important digital migration process is not thrown into total disarray, and should the 3 media houses accept to play by the CAK rules, show remorse and publicly apologize for the tone and misleading content in the offensive ads, we urge the regulator to reconsider withdrawal of their license before officially gazzetting its’ latest decision. We also urge the affected media houses not to proceed to Court on the latest CAK decision prior to giving meaningful dialogue  chance.

(b)  That the Competition Authority should immediately investigate potential abuse of dominance specifically on the cross-ownership and refusal by the 3 media houses to run advertisements by rivals on digital migration switch-off or otherwise 

(c)  That there will be need for Parliament to review the Kenya Information Communications Act on the structure and balance of foreign and local ownership levels of the Broadcast Signal Distribution licensees 

(d) That BSD’s will need to find a win-win and reasonable working arrangement with the Free To Air channels.

(e) That CAK embarks on consumer education for the two remaining analogue switch-off phases. We trust that in a reconciliatory spirit the 3 media houses will accept advertisements from their rivals 

(f)  That CAK must equally ensure that all pay-tv decoders should never disconnect Free to Air channels whether on FTA or encrypted pay-tv decoders.

(g) Meanwhile, we urge senior Government officers to stop interfering with the CAK and provide it an ample time to make its decisions free from Government and commercial interest

- MyNews24

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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