Kenya’s pending digital migration to beat the 15th June 2015 deadline will finally start its implementation in Nairobi and its environs on 31st December, just a few days from today. Kenya’s migration has been put off thrice now due to lawsuits filed by 3 local stations from the original set deadline for the migration which was December 2013. This dragged on with the 3 major local stations sighting a myriad of reasons why the consumers were not ready for the analogue to digital switch over.
The migration to Digital Television broadcasting is a Government initiative resulting from the decision made at the Regional Radio Conference of 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland (RRC-06). The decision requires countries in the R.R.C. planning area to migrate from analogue to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting technologies by 2015.
Although there will be many other benefits that will come with this move, some of them including better picture quality, better viewing pleasure and better utilization of existing frequencies, I have been a proponent of the digital migration for the simple reason of choice.
I grew up in the 80’s when KBC ( then VOK) was the only TV channel there was.The station opening time was at 4pm and closing time was at 11pm( I am not kidding, there was such a thing as kufunga stesheni). When Kenya Television Network (KTN ) was launched in 1992, it was truly our channel, our choice. It was a breath of fresh air and one no longer had to listen to every minute of the boring news that always started with news about the then president Moi whether he had an event worth reporting or not.
I got my current GoTv decoder as a media review generous offering from Multichoice Kenya. This was way before I even made a choice from the existing options of going digital. I have since come to really like it due to the offering it has for children. I am not much of a TV person, actually, I can count on one hand the number of times I have watched TV in the last 2 months. I am constantly online and as it turns out, once you have scrolled through Google news, the twitter timeline and several other sites, you can basically predict what will be in the 7 or 9 pm local news.
GoTV offers 3 kids channels, Disney Junior, Jimjam and Nickelodeon. Those are the only stations we switch between when the Mister is not watching sports or documentaries.
In the last 2 months, GoTV has been the worst PayTV station for many of their customers myself included. This comes at a time when they have set up shop in every corner of Nairobi’s CBD in a bid to get as many customers in the run up to the digital migration as possible. This has evidently drastically affected their service offering. Lack of signal or unending signal scrambling is not new, their sister TV station DSTV always encounters such problems especially during the rainy seasons. However, what has been really off-putting is customers paying for the full bouquet only to be put on the the Ksh 700 that has less channels, that and the lack of customer support from the Customer service team. Gotv Kenya has an active twitter account, however, its response to queries can only qualify as twitter bots responses or staff who sound like bots who respond to all queries in pretty much the same way to everyone who seeks support regardless of whether someone is having a signal problem or not.
@MikeObare you are not the only one. I have been complaining for a whole month, all the while being told its my aerial.
— Njeri Wangari (@NjeriWangari) December 19, 2014
What surprised me most and continues to, is the fact that, GoTV Kenya does not have an on-call phone support team, the customer care number they give, 0711 066000 is a voice prompt service that only serves to frustrate their customers further especially when the problem is not from the customers end. Oh, and the service costs Ksh. 30 per voice prompt call.
I had an exchange of over 10 tweets with their GOTV twitter team before someone finally called me at 11.30 in the night, waking me up and still asking if it was possible for me to go to my decoder for a troubleshooting session.
@husseinabdy Hi Hussein, kindly update us with your IUC number for further assistance.^CA
— GOtvKenya (@GOtvKenya) December 24, 2014
Talk a walk into Nairobi’s CBD and you will find all street corners occupied by the PayTV providers, GoTV, DSTV, Startimes and Zuku,all wooing you either on price or variety of programs on offer.
The choice that the Digital migration is set to provide is still very much needed. The 4 existing providers still fail in either service delivery or cost flexibility. DSTV which offers the most variety when it comes to channels, costs over Ksh. 6,000 per month for the full bouquet. They are still adamant on enabling customers pay for what they actually watch. This is equivalent to a supermarket forcing its customers to pay for items in specific aisles regardless of whether they pick all the items or just 2.
GoTV which is an alternative package by Multichoice was to cater for the customers who still want more good quality and variety channels at a more affordable rate.
The choice for customers to still get a variety of good entertainment at a price they can afford is yet to avail itself. That is why the Digital migration is very important and beneficial not only thousands of Kenyans who feel like they have no choice when it comes to TV entertainment but also to the a new breed of content creators who will not have to pay millions of shillings to purchase a broadcast license which has been the case before. This will also sound an end to a monopoly, an exclusive club of media owners who all decide to show soap operas after 7pm,preachings every Sunday morning and afro sinema every weekday morning.
Start-ups like Able Wireless and many others that will enter this space will give the consumer the power of choice on which Pay TV station and channel customers can switch to and enable healthy competition among the different players that will fight for the customer’s eyes.
A few words of advice from my friend Martin who runs the tech blog – Techweez, if you haven’t already bought a decoder, you might be better off buying a Digital TV.
By the way, if you can afford a Digital TV, just buy it, forget all these Set Top Boxes. They are all locking separate channels.
— Martin Gicheru (@martingicheru) December 22, 2014