NAIROBI – Kenya’s migration to digital broadcasting has been thrown back to the drawing board after the Supreme Court reversed the C*************l’s decision compelling the sector regulator to issue digital signal broadcasting (DSB) licences to three leading media houses.

But the seven-judge Bench led by Chief Justice W***y Mutunga also ruled that the Communications Authority (CA) was under obligation to take care of the interests of public, local private and international parties to the DSB licensing saga. In a decision that took more than two hours to deliver, the judges ordered that the regulator and the media houses open dialogue and agree on a possible award of an extra licence to either the NMG-RMS consortium or any other local private investor alongside the one already awarded to public broadcaster KBC and Chinese firm — Signet.

“The appellants (CA) are given 90 days to consider the merits of issuing a licence to Nation Media Group, Standard Media Group, Royal Media Services or any other local investor,” Dr Mutunga said.

The judges, however, knocked down the media houses’ pleading that their intellectual rights had been violated when CA gave Gotv, Signet and PAG the permission to air content generated by the three media houses. The judges argued that the media houses, having allowed such broadcasting twice before, there was no evidence that the consent did not stand anymore. “They had given consent to Signet to carry their content, but withdrew it in 2011.

They then gave consent again in 2012 when they got back onto the digital migration programme and there is no factual basis to hold that the CA violated their rights.” The Communications Authority moved to the Supreme Court after the C*************l postponed digital migration to this month.

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