Activist Okiya Omtata sues Communications Authority of Kenya for terminating analogue broadcast

By Isaiah Lucheli
Civil rights activists have moved to court seeking to have the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) compelled to restore free to air television services across the country. In court papers filed Thursday, Okiya Omtata argued that the Supreme Court did not order the Communications Authority of Kenya and the Cabinet Secretary for Information to terminate television services by KTN, NTV, Citizen and QTV, which are widely relied on by millions of poor Kenyans. He observed that majority of the decoders being sold now in the market comprised 90 percent pay television stations and a paltry 10 percent free to air channels, which has a huge implication in promoting universal access to information for the poor, whose only access to TV has been through free to air channels before the switch off. “The CA discharged its mandate of midwifing the digital migration incompetently and in total violation of the constitution such as right to information to the extent that they did not consider the interests of the marginalized, who cannot afford digital pay television and depend entirely on free to air televisions,” he said. The access to information, argued Omtata, was a prerequisite for media freedom noting that the freedom to impart information goes hand in hand with the freedom to receive the information. He added that CA should have acted equitably by balancing the needs of millions of Kenyans, who are the majority relying on the free to air television, instead of promoting pay television. See also: Digital TV blackout deals blow to businesses The authority, he added, erred by turning the country’s move from analogue to digital broadcasting into a forced relocation. “The authority’s action, which has resulted, to the shutdown of the four television channels across the country, are unconstitutional and contravenes the constitution,” he said.

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