Royal Media Services plans to enter the pay-television market. The media house, which runs Citizen TV and a host of radio stations, has applied for a licence to offer pay-TV services from the Communications Authority of Kenya.
According to the authority, Royal Media Services and Simba TV Kenya have applied for a terrestrial subscription broadcasting service licence, which would enable them to offer pay-TV services.
Royal Media Services will battle it out other established pay-TV firms such as GOtv and StarTimes, which offer their content both on satellite and terrestrial platforms. The licence applied for will provide pay-TV services on terrestrial platform. Some of the existing terrestrial subscription service providers include GOtv and StarTimes.
“The licensing process under the new regime is ongoing at the moment,” said director general Francis Wangusi in a response to the Business Daily queries.
Citizen is Kenya’s most popular TV station controlling over 50% of prime time viewership cross the main audience segments, followed by KTN and NTV in that order.
“Any public or county authority, company, person or body of persons desirous of making any representation on or objection to the grant of that licence as aforesaid must do so before expiry of 30 days from the date of this notice and must forward to the applicant a copy of such representation or objection,” The Communication Authority said in a notice published on Friday.
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The Regional Radio Communication Conference held in Geneva in 2006 set a June 17, 2015 deadline for migration to digital TV.
Before then access to pay-TV in Kenya had been restricted to either satellite or cable networks, but this changed with the digital migration, which allows the regulator to license firms to offer the service under the digital terrestrial broadcasting.
According to the GeoPoll survey released in January, 30 per cent of the households that own set-top boxes opted for free-to-air broadcasts while 70 per cent chose pay-TV.
Citizen’s move comes a year after the digital migration was effected in Kenya. The movie also signifies that a coalition of the main broadcasters to offer pay-services under Africa Digital Network (AND) has collapsed. RMS, Standard Group (KTN) and Nation Media Group (NMG), were to jointly provide pay-TV services through a single AND branded set-top box.
If granted the licence, it will be a major coup for Citizen on its rivals which are still struggling to catch up with its strong programming that has endeared it to Kenyan viewers.