Kenya: Regulator Declines Telco’s Bid For TV Licence Again

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has once again opted to decline to grant Safaricom a broadcasting licence.

This decision was made pending the release of the report on market dominance in the country’s telecommunications sector.

During an interview, the Director-General of the CA, Francis Wangusi said that the firm could not yet be granted a licence to distribute bundled broadcasting products until the regulator had determined that its scale is not a threat to Kenya’s existing service providers.
He said that the CA told Safaricom that in the meantime, it was more than welcome to stream and broadcast through the internet since this is something that they were already doing anyway.
What the CA is not yet about to approve is for Safaricom to transmit content through a digital signal distribution licence o through free-to-air.

During the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting in 2015, Safaricom approached the authority and applied for a licence to operate and own a free-to-air television station.
The operator also wanted an Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) service licence and other licences for terrestrial subscription broadcasting services and subscription management licensing.
However, for the past three years, the CA has turned down Safaricom’s request.

The CEO of Safaricom, Bob Collymore said that the service provider would not give up and would send an application to the regulator yet again.
The telco’s aspirations for a broadcasting licence were the reason behind the launch of Safaricom’s Big Box. The Big Box was meant to be an internet router and decoder, but it had failed to gain momentum among subscribers. That move by the telco would have had a significant impact on both the pay-TV and free-to-air divisions of the industry if it had seen positive growth.

Currently, only five signal distributors are licensed to broadcast digital TV signals in Kenya. These are MultiChoice’s GoTV Kenya, Africa Digital Network, the Chinese-owned Pan Africa Network Group, Lancia Digital and the State-run Signet.

Going forward, service providers wanting to apply for or renew their broadcasting, telecommunications or courier services licensing will also be able to do it online because the CA is currently in the process of installing a new online licensing management system to improve the process of evaluating and issuing licences.

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