Digital TV and FM Radio Are Still at the Apex of Electronic Mass Communication in Kenya


In 2015, Kenya took a bold step in implementing the digital migration process that was initiated back in 2009. It was a process that saw key major media houses transition from analog to digital broadcasting. Prior to this implementation, these media houses were involved in legal tussles to stop the transition. The Supreme Court of Kenya had to step in and ruled in favour of digital migration. As a result, consumers of local television had to switch from analogue signals to using set-top boxes (STB) to receive programming on their TVs. While consumers were forced to acquire these new devices, digital television had the potential to mitigate some genuine issues such as poor resolution or analogue TVs.

According to the latest numbers from the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA), the number of free-to-air TV channels on the digital platform is 66 as of June 2017. The previous quarter recorded 60 channels. This rise is attributed to licensing of new entrants in the broadcasting field. At the same time, the number of pay TV service providers on the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform has not shifted (GoTV and Start Times).

Another notable point is that DTT signals cover around 78% of the Kenyan population as of June 2017. This marks a jump from 75% registered in the preceding quarter. The motivation behind this jump is the extension of network coverage by distributors. Specifically, signals are available in Nairobi, Nakuru, Nyeri, Mombasa, Kisumu,Webuye, Eldoret, Malindi, Meru (Nyambene), Kisii, Kericho, Narok, Nyahururu, Embu, Kisii, Machakos, Murang’a, Naivasha, Nyeri, Webuye, Narok, Mbui nzau, Kapenguria, Wajir, Kitui, Lamu and Namanga.

To put these strides into perspective, CA reports that the cumulative number of digital STB bought as of June 30, 2017 is 729,477 for FTA STBs and 3,788,417 for Pay TV.

Lastly, radio consumers have access to 178 FM radio stations that were registered as of June 2017. This is a remarkable growth from the last FY that registered 139 stations thanks to licensing new operators in the country.