Government loses ground in digital migration row
14 April 2014, 11:24
Nairobi - The government was once again dealt a major blow in its plight to push through with digital migration after yet another court ruling went south.
A two bench judge Friday stopped four signal distributors
from airing any content belonging to the country’s three top media houses
By stopping Signet Kenya limited, Star Times Media Limited,
Pan Africa Network Group Kenya Limited and GOTV Kenya from broadcasting content
from Royal Media Services, Nation Media Group and the Standard Group, Supreme
Court judges Jackton Boma Ojwang and Smokin Wanjala upheld Appeal Court’s
decision of allowing viewers to enjoy free TV.
While delivering a ruling to an appeal filed by the
government and the Communications Commission of Kenya against a ruling that
favoured the three media houses on matters digital migration, the judges asked
CCK not to switch off any broadcasting frequencies.
The judges also said that the case turns out to reveal the
complexity of parties involved in the whole digital migration process as well
as implications of the public interest and directed that the digital migration
switch off to remain September 30.
They also noted the need for urgently hearing the appeal in
order to establish a ground for deciding on the way forward concerning all
issues raised with regards to digital migration.
“We have noted the importance and urgency of hearing this
appeal as a basis for determining contending claims on merit, we therefore
direct that Signet, Star Times, PANG and GOTV are hereby prohibited from
broadcasting any content from the three media houses without their consent
pending the hearing and determination of the intended appeal,” ruled the
As viewers and the three media houses got the temporary
reprieve, CCK’s fate remains unknown as the Appellate Court had declared it not
the relevant body to regulate airwaves yet Justices Ojwang and Wanjala
suspended that declaration.
The bench also stopped CCK from switching off any
frequencies and broadcasting spectrums.
“The CCK is prohibited from switching off any frequencies,
broadcast spectrums or broadcasting services, the legal effect of the Court of
Appeal’s declaration that the CCK was not the independent body as a regulator
of the airwaves is held in abeyance pending the hearing and determination of
the intended appeal,” they ruled.
The Court of Appeal had ruled that CCK has no powers
constitutionally to regulate what goes on air as in Article 34 and the judge’s
ruling implies that the government with relevant stakeholders can still
formulate a relevant body as a solution on regulation of airwaves and tendering
of licenses if need be since that is the contentious issue in bringing into
realization digital migration.
However, whether Nation Media Group, Standard Group and the
Royal Media Service who had been given a leeway to be furnished with
licenses will forge ahead is not clear since that order remained untouched.
The judges also suspended the declaration that BSD license
issued to Pan African Network Group Kenya Limited.
They instructed all the parties involved on the case to file
their court documents regarding the appeal case within 21 days and then report
to the Supreme Court Registrar to confirm compliance on May 27.
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