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TV switch-off unfair to Kenyans says Raila

15 February 2015, 10:17 Victor Tinto

Nairobi - The analogue switch-off across the country that has seen 4 major TV stations off air is unfair and a reversal of constitutional rights, CORD leader Raila Odinga has said.

The three major free to air stations in the country were switched off by the Communications Authority of Kenya CA on Saturday in what is the culmination of an acrimonious battle between the CA and the media houses.

The four stations, NTV, KTN, Citizen TV and QTV were switched off a few minutes after 1 PM local time Saturday.

This followed a ruling Friday by the Supreme Court that the set dates for migration within Nairobi and its environs as well as other major towns in the country would remain 31 December 2014 and February 2, 2015  which in essence meant that the stations were in violation of the schedule having not earlier made the switch.

Raila though, insists that the move is a violation of rights, and something that could be avoided entirely.

" The Jubilee regime is unwilling to arbitrate between a foreign firm and local, home-grown media houses over the distribution of digital frequency signals," he said. 

" We stand for the right to information and we will stand with Kenyans in demanding this basic right. We stand for the tested adage that 'a popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both," he added.

The four stations had argued Friday that they needed more time to move to the digital platforms as they were in the process of importing their own set top boxes.

However, the Supreme Court said that in the spirit of competition, it was necessary for all stations to shift to the digital network in-order to allow a fair playing field as every other station apart from the four had already moved.

Engineers from the CA switched off the signals belonging to the four stations at their respective Limuru transmission stations.

Opinion from Kenyans regarding the move by the CA was varied, with many agreeing it was unfair but also arguing that the four stations have had enough time to prepare for migration.

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