By Vera Marion
Is there a truth to what Africa Digital Network (ADN) is telling us? Several sighs of reliefs were heard as the 4 stations: NTV, KTN, Citizen and QTV announced that they would be back on air.But therein ends the breaking news. Yet delving deeper, the three stations NTV, KTN and Citizen that are widely viewed, will only be airing in Nairobi using their own digital platform. What then happens to the rest of the country? Will they still be shrouded in darkness? Pay TV has been sending out messages that the local channels are back on their platform. Is this only for Nairobi or for the entire country? Will one be required to pay the subscriptions to view the local channels? Endless unansweredquestions linger in our minds, yet who can give us an answer?
What does ADN mean when they say that they will air their programs on their own digital platform? Does that mean that the other pay TV platforms will not air the local channels? Will this mean then that if I want to watch the local channels, I buy a set-top box and if I want to use the Pay TV like GO TV, Star times, DSTV among others, I will have to buy their decoders as well?
The question of the set top boxes then arises, how much will they cost? Will they be cheap? Since they are a one off payment, won’t the ADNs set top boxes cost the public an arm and a leg? Will these stations not want to recover what they lost in monetary value during the switch off by selling their set top boxes expensively?
Who is answering all these questions? Any of these questions? All we hear is a hullabaloo that the stations are back on air. End of story. Who will answer the questions of the ones within and without Nairobi who do not have an understanding of what the digital migration is all about? No one. That’s the answer.
Most people are left without an understanding of what is going on. The media chooses to tell us quarter truth that sets our adrenaline running with excitement, yet they hide the other three quarter truth that no one knows about but them.
Like any other business, these stations are in business and having lost millions of shillings in terms of revenues from advertisers during the duration that they were off air, the person who will feel the pinch the most is you and me in the guise of their own set-top boxes that may be at a very high price.
However much the truth is hidden or revealed it will be a very long time before all Kenyans feel ‘welcomed home’ by KTN. It will be a very long time before NTV ‘turns on my world’, let alone Kenya. It will be a long time before Citizen entertains us with their local programming (Does Citizen have a signature phrase like KTN and NTV? That’s a story for another day anyway).