The High Court has this morning stopped the 31st December 2012 analogue switch off deadline until 11th January 2013 when it will make a ruling on the same.
This comes after Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) filed a case under certificate of urgency seeking orders to prevent the government from effecting the 31st December 2012 deadline to switch off analogue signal in Nairobi and its environs.
Respondents to the petition included Information and Communications minister, Attorney General and Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK).
On 30th November 2012, Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said the government has no reason to postpone the Nairobi switch off since the prices of set top boxes have come down to between KES 2,500 and KES 6,000 from the previous KES 6,000 and KES 9,000. He further argued that the government has invested KES 2 billion to roll-out the digital infrastructure and any delay in switching off the analogue signals is doing more harm to the economy as the government needs to free the frequencies to be used.
Cofek, on the other hand, argues that the decision to switch off analogue television signal in Nairobi discriminates against Kenyans who cannot afford set-top boxes. A spot check by pesatalk.com has revealed that the prices of set top boxes currently retail between KES 1,999 to KES 6,300.
The consumer organization further states that the notice given to Nairobi residents to acquire set-top boxes, devices that decode digital signals for viewing on analogue TV sets, was ill timed given other demands such as Christmas spending and school fees in January.
The consumer lobby group further states that the government’s decision to switch off analogue transmission signal contravenes the doctrine of public participation embraced under Article 10 of the constitution.
In support of Cofek is Media Owners Association who say that the set deadline should be extended. Media Owners Association Chairman Kiprono Kittony says the switch off will keep Kenyans away from accessing information included under the Bill of Rights.
International Telecommunication Union, a UN body, has set 2015 as the universal switch off deadline. Cofek states that the December 31st deadline, which is ahead of the global deadline, lacks legal, economic and moral basis.