GOTV Arm-twisting Subscribers by Illegally Charging For Free To Air Channels


Kenya is set to have migrated from analogue to digital television broadcasting by March 30th 2015 with the global switch deadline set for 19th June 2015. The digital migration debate led to a back and forth between the Communication Authority and local broadcasters culminating in a two weeks digital switch off by the three major media houses. The tussle between the broadcasters and the Communication Authority was over a raging debate over free to air channels. The Communication Authority of Kenya declared that subscribers were not to pay for Free to Air channels. If you have a Free-to-Air decoder or a digital TV, you will receive digital signals distributed by distributors that included ADN, Pan Africa Group (PANG) and Signet.

Some Set top box vendors who offer both free to air and pay tv channels circumvented this directive by offering subscribers an option to “upgrade” their offering to enable them access free to air channels after they have exhausted their paid bouquet subscription. GOtv has gone back on this by making a move we feel is illegal.

In an internal document seen by Techweez, GoTV is set to start charging subscribers for its  Go TV open bouquet, which is designed for those who want free to air channels at no cost. This bouquet has since been rebranded to GOtv Lite with the intent of replacing the Gotv open an exercise that took off on 18th May 2015. The new offering was set to give access to free-to-air and 2 additional pay TV channels.

“GOtv Lite replaces Gotv open and the new basic bouquet offers an annual Admin Fee. Subscribers will NOT be required to pay monthly fees on the GOtv Lite bouquet. For Ksh. 1800, subscribers will have access to the FAITH and Islam channels plus all available local free television channels. Changes in operating systems and bouquet configurations has necessitated the introduction of GOtv Lite, which has replaced the current GOtv Open”, the documents said.

Currently, GOtv sells decoders to consumers for Ksh. 1399 with 2 months GOtv Plus Subscription. Upon expiry,  subscribers have the option of Continuing with either the GOtv Plus or GOtv Value bouquet options and pay a monthly subscription or pay a one off fee of Kshs. 1,200 for the FTA channels. The latter is set for replacement by the GOtv lite.  GOtv calls the annual charges an “annual administration fee is for the network management costs that are incurred in bringing the channels to subscribers which is a contravention of the Communication Authority provision.

Some of the subscribers caught unawares by the changes and queried the same on various platforms. Below are excerpts of the feedback they received from GOtv to their dismay.

It’s worthy of note that many subscribers are yet to be informed of these changes and are still using the service with the belief that the GOtv Open package is still as they knew it was before the changes.