Muite wants local media houses given digital licenses
02 January 2014, 14:15
Bungoma - Paul Muite, the lawyer representing media houses in court on the television digital migration case has called on the government to give local broadcasting companies digital licenses and frequencies.
Muite said that the government's move to give the Chinese StarTimes Company digital license for local media houses to liaise with it in airing their broadcasts would result into huge losses since they have invested a lot in their firms.
"Local media houses such as Royal Media, Standard Media Group and Nation Media Group fear losing over KES 40 billion they have invested in their companies if the government does not provide them with the digital licenses and frequencies," said Muite.
"Also engaging another party to air media houses broadcasts is contrary to Article 34 of the Constitution which outlines media ownership and citizens' right to access to information. Media houses have no trust in a foreign company to air their relevant broadcasts," he added.
He noted that given the right to own digital licenses and frequencies, local media houses have vowed to import the Universal Set boxes for citizens easier access at affordable prices, educate them on benefits of digital migration through self-initiative public awareness campaigns.
Muite said that local media houses are not against digital migration instead they fear losing a large number of their audience yet to access the digital set boxes.
"Local media houses depend on advertisements. The government's rush for digital switch over has made the media houses to raise the concern of losing their audience now that there were approximately 26,000 Universal Set boxes in the country as by December," noted Muite.
He also said that the government has failed to ensure enough free to air Universal Set boxes are in the market instead of the StarTime's P-Television Set boxes that users have to pay KES 500 monthly service charges to access its limited information.
Muite further noted that the government's move to award StarTimes digital license guarantees it the monopoly privileges to exploit users. He also said that the media industry would be greatly affected in case the foreign company terminates its contract with the government.
However, Muite lauded the government's effort of implementing the 2006 Geneva Conference on global digital migration stating that the switch over is beneficial because one analogue frequency is yields 50 digital frequencies hence users can watch a wider range of channels of their choice.
He remained optimistic that the 45 days given by the court to hear the case on digital migration will be fruitful for local media houses' empowerment through provision of digital licenses and frequencies to air the broadcasts independently.
Muite was speaking to a local radio station about digital television migration interview.
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