November 15th, 2010 - 16:59 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.
Next Generation Broadcasting AB (NGB) will launch a new pay TV station next month in Kenya. NGB, a Swedish firm, says it has finalised the process after testing frequencies since June. Dubbed Smart TV, the channel will use Kenya Broadcasting Corporation’s digital platform to reach customers.
“We have finalised agreements with a host of local and international channels that will be part of our pay TV offering to enable us to launch it commercially. We already have a clear signal and consumers can now buy set top boxes. They will have free viewing until end of the year, a period we believe is long enough for them to sample our channels and give us feedback on our content and quality,” said NGB Kenya CEO Daniel Kagwe.
The bouquet of eight channels will include BBC World News, Fox Entertainment, Showtime for Hollywood movies, and Setanta for sports. The other channels on offer include HiNolly for Nollywood movies, KidsCo - a children’s channel, Star TV for Hollywood gossip, and the MTV Base Music channel. “Monthly subscription will be Sh990 (US$12.30).
The project was rocked by controversy during its initial testing period after some local players were opposed to its use of KBC infrastructure. “KBC is a public broadcaster and its duty is to assist everybody to host their channels on a digital platform to make it easy for Kenyan’s to transform from analogue to digital. It is not exclusive to NGB and anybody can use it,” added Mr Kagwe.
The company has similar operations in Ghana and Uganda, offering both post and prepaid digital terrestrial TV services. “There is a huge potential out there for pay TV channels and we intend to extend our current 100km radius to cover all major towns in Kenya.”
The question has not been how much they pay in monthly subscriptions, but how much it is to acquire the initial set up equipment which has been prohibitive. With Smart TV, all one needs is the initial Sh5,000 (US$62) for the set top box and one is ready to go,” said Mr Kagwe.
According to NGB, Smart TV’s bouquet of channels uses the latest digital TV technology, MPEG 4. The technology has already been adopted by KBC and is approved by the Communications Commission of Kenya.
NGB Kenya customers will also access all the free to air local channels such as KBC, NTV, KTN, STV, Citizen TV, Family TV and K24 among others in digital quality without the need for a satellite dish or an extra set top box. This comes at a time when Kenya has embarked on a migration process from its current analogue TV broadcasting to a digital transmission age expected to be completed by 2012.
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