Vernacular digital television channels broadcasting in specific regions could benefit from signal distribution fee waiver in two years’ time.
This is in efforts by the government to boost the viewership of locally generated content.
Digital broadcasters have cited the high cost of content creation as a barrier for growth after the country shifted from analogue to digital transmission.
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has ruled out a blanket waiver in digital signal distribution fee noting that doing so will ground broadcast signal distributors.
Mucheru who was speaking during digital broadcasters’ association media forum said it is high time that the digital media work to increase their reach so that they can get advertisements.
“The government is only working with 20 media stations and yet we have over 70,” he said and challenged media houses to give in their portfolios and reach so that the government can be able to advertise with them.
The CS further called upon producers to come out and be creative in the content they produce saying this will boost them as they will get advertisers.
He explained that 95 percent of advertisements come from only 100 companies and yet there are more companies out there that would want to advertise.
The government, he said, is ready to facilitate media and production houses to expand content and promised to look into the cost of signal distribution that most of the digital broadcasters say are limiting their progress in the industry
He acknowledged that the government is revisiting on how it is spending on advertising based on the audience and reach.
“ We want media owners to engage us by telling us their reach and also inform us on their niche areas so that companies would know on which station to advertise,” said the CS.
Kenya Film Commission Board (KFCB) CEO Dr. Ezekiel Mutua said Kenyans have a role to play in contributing to digital transformation.
He said that the board had signed a content classification memorandum of Understanding with 15 members of the Digital Broadcaster Association (DBA) to enhance compliance with the programming Code for Radio and Television services in Kenya.
Mutua asked the government through the ICT CS to promote the small media organizations through advertising saying this will enable them expand and promote employment.
In the last review of the fee charged by Broadcast Signal Distributors, Signet and Pan African Network Group, the Communications Authority slashed the monthly rates by 29% for Nairobi and its environs, from KES 125,990 to KES 89,545 per megabit per month.
Charges in other major towns were reduced by 60%, from KES 93,202 to KES 37,311 per megabit per month and for remote areas digital television channels were to pay KES 32,961.
Despite the reductions, digital broadcasters feel the cost is still prohibitive even as the country awaits for the next review that is due in less than two years.
Out of 19 million Kenyans who have access to broadcast services, 3.3 million of them watch digital television channels.
The broadcasters also want the government to set up a content development fund to boost local content productions and attract advertisers on the digital television platform.
Since digital migration four years ago, at least 70 channels have been established.