VENTURES AFRICA- The quote “if u can’t stand the heat, stay out of the Kitchen” may now apply to Kenya Pay Television market as the sector is poised for competition following the announcement of the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to issue license to 168 operators, which will intensify the industry’s move to the digital broadcasting age as opposed to the analog platform.
Permits will be issued in specialized areas such as sports, culture, environment, religion and industry. The entrant of these new providers will assert more competition to pay Tv providers like My Tv, Zuku, DStv and free-to-air stations.
Confirming this development on Wednesday, Acting Director General of CCK, Francis Wangusi, said the commission will issue 168 temporary broadcasting permits before the end of this week.
“We are going to issue the 168 applications on our waiting list with temporary broadcasting permits before the end of this week as we wait for a High Court case to be determined,” Wangusi said.
Kenya’s Media Owners Association had taken CCK to court to bar it from migrating them to the new licensing regime because CCK was not an independent industry regulator as envisaged under Section 34 of Constitution. The case is yet to be resolved, Business Daily said.
However, pending the time that is resolved, the proposed new entrant will not be allowed to establish a mast rather they will be hosted by licensed signal distributors – Signet and Pan African Network – at an agreed fee.
The advantage is that the barrier of fund as a stumbling block for new entrants will be eliminated. Funding has been a militating factor in the past, a barrier which has worked in the favor of DStv. New entrants like GTV and Smart TV have been forced out of the market as a result of lack of capital.
“We expect the new providers to introduce new business models such as video on demand, commonly known as pay- per-view, and niche subscription.” This concept allows subscribers to buy specific programmes instead of packages that have made the pay-TV market expensive and forced consumers to buy content they have no interest in.
Meanwhile, the Pay-Tv sector has been dominated by South Africa’s Digital Satellite Television, DSTV over the years.
DStv has for 15 years; enjoy the autonomy of being the market leader in the industry by holding the exclusive right to provide key content such as sports, including the English Premiership League.
According to the Information and Communications Permanent Secretary, Bitange Ndemo, viability of the business would henceforth be dictated by content quality. “Providers will have to sell relevant content. This will bring to an end the era when politicians acquired frequencies for speculation or to drive their partisan agenda,” Ndemo said.
CCK has already offered Chinese pay television station StarTimes one of such permit. StarTimes launched its services in Nairobi on Tuesday and it plans to penetrate the Pay-Tv market through lower pricing. Although subscribers have to pay Sh2, 999 ($35), the company is offering seven bouquets across 60 channels for movies, music, documentaries and sports at subscription rates of between Sh499 ($6) and Sh2,499 ($29.4) per month.
StarTimes Media Kenya CEO, Leo Lee, said “To meet the needs of varied subscribers who have not been able to access pay television in Kenya and handle competition, we are going to offer low monthly subscription fees for our content.”