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China’s PAN Group enters Kenya’s DTV market

Kenya’s public broadcaster braces itself for competition with the announcement that China’s Pan African Networks Group is to roll out a digital TV service in Kenya starting next month. The state-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBS) switched on its DVB-T2 digital terrestrial network last week.

Michael Wu, managing director of Pan African Networks said construction of a transmission site in Nairobi is almost complete and it will have covered 65% of the country by the end of 2012. PAN was awarded Kenya’s second broadcast signal distribution license in October 2011.

The KBC subsidiary Signet has, meanwhile, now officially launched digital transmission from its Limuru site to serve Nairobi, and five other major centres, after broadcasting10 free to air test channels since January. This service will be rolled out to Mombasa by the end of April and an expansion to 20 digital terrestrial channels is also expected within a month.

The digital service is only available to those homes equipped with set top boxes and either digital ready television sets or an analogue signal converter. The boxes reportedly retail for between 4,000 and 10,000 shillings – putting them out of reach for many Kenyans.

Kenya is aiming to achieve the migration to digital broadcasting by June 2012. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has called for global switch off of analogue TV signals by 2015.