Thursday, January 29, 2015

MIGRATION TO DIGITAL KENYA: Why Embrace the Switch to Digital?

Nick Waigwa

In a recent article on#DigitalMigrationKenya, I used an analogy of the noisy hornbill. The noisy hornbill is a bird that was featured as a character in a story I encountered with while in primary school some 21 years ago. The bird’s character benefited other inhabitants in a forest where they lived.

Indeed, the noisy hornbill managed to kill two ‘birds’ with a sole stone. It spoiled the show for the hunter by scaring the hunter’s target with its noise and at the same time secured the lives of the other inhabitants in the forest.

In the Kenya’s media forest there is a character whose behavior is close to that of the noisy hornbill. The only difference is that this character is unknowingly practicing self destruction, accepting to be milked and fueled to chase a very dry wind.

The global digital migration is going to happen and it is time for any genuine investor who has always wanted to invest in TV Broadcasting in Kenya to ignore the noisy hornbill and plant their resources in this opening media market. It is time additional investors other than the traditional trio came in to provide an alternative advertising solution to the advertisers who continue to suffer from the hangovers of monopoly even after a digital solution continues to knock persistently. 
One of the key roles of the media is to educate. The media has an undisputed power to educate or influence people into illiteracy. It can be simply be used for development or destruction. On digital migration in Kenya the noisy hornbill has refused to genuinely educate the public on what the digital migration is all about and the opportunities therein. 

In a camouflaged opposition to the switch, the noisy hornbill has invested much of his energy in legal battles with the regulator and in what any keen observer would perceive as a determination to defend their share in the monopolized advertising market.

I recently watched with disbelief as an editor from a media house in Kenya appeared on a local “National TV” expressing fear that over 500 media professionals risked losing their jobs if the demands of a consortium comprised of three “local” Media houses are not met. I pity the person who advised the editor to base his argument on such an unrealistic fear.

For any serious journalist or media professional working in the broadcast media industry today, the digital migration is should be taken as an open invitation to freedom and an opener to new opportunities. I find it very hard to agree with any person who thinks that the digital migration presents a threat to media professional’s jobs.

Whoever has eyes ought to see for himself/herself the opportunities coming with this transition from analogue to digital TV broadcasting regime.  The list of opportunities is inexhaustible. This is the time for many content producers whose dreams were previously shattered by the arrogant face of monopoly. It is their time to earn from their hard earned skills.

Employed and Freelance script writers, video producers, camera persons, video editors and news reporters should refuse to be blurred by the gospel of the noisy hornbill. They should open their eyes wide and position themselves strategically to satisfy the demand for local content which is soon going to be very high. 
As I conclude, I must submit to you that if you have read this piece to this point; kindly refuse to be hoodwinked into attending the wedding party of the three media houses in the consortium. Their marriage is just for convenience and a divorce is imminent. Today, they are driven by the thirst for controlling the advertising market share, greed for proceeds from decoders and making some additional cash from pay TV subscriptions.

Any supporting for the digital migration can never be in vain as the world continues to embrace the leverage of technology as a safe bridge to new opportunities. The digital TV migration is a must embrace because it brings with it an end to the ugly face of monopoly, quality TV as well as a bag full of opportunities to our local content producers, advertisers, investors and media content consumers.  

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