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Hitch over digital TV switch-over talks

CCKTalks between the Communications Commission of Kenya and a consumer lobby intended to agree on a new deadline for digital migration have failed to start after new disagreements appeared between the warring parties.

Yesterday, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) said that the two parties were yet to commence talks two weeks after a high court ruling ordered them to come up with an agreeable date on the switch off of the analogue broadcast signal.

The Cofek secretary-general, Stephen Mutoro, in a phone interview, said that his lobby had snubbed a meeting called by the CCK on Thursday after learning that the regulator was bringing on board other stakeholders to the meeting contrary to the court ruling. He said that they had been called for a meeting on Thursday, but other parties were also invited. Cofek was the only group that had gone to court to stop the migration, and the court had ordered that CCK should hold discussions with Cofek. They were not able to understand why other people were being involved in the guise of stakeholders.

In a quick rejoinder, the regulator said that it has been and is still committed to holding talks with the lobby group as per the ruling. The CCK said that the Thursday meeting was on a totally different subject and Cofek should have attended.

The CCK director of consumer and public affairs Mutua Muthusi said that it was evident from the invitation they had sent to Cofek that the meeting was not about digital migration. They had not called for any discussion on the digital migration.

Mr. Mutua said that their lawyers were still studying the ruling to come up with a position, and they were committed to have an agreement before the February 20 deadline given by the court.

The CCK director-general Francis Wangusi revealed that the commission was setting up a team to hold meetings with Cofek. Cofek was also reacting to opinion by the ministry of Information and Commission permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo on a public website that the government could only hold consultations with the stakeholders and not Cofek which had non-elected officials.

He said that the constitution dictated that they hold consultations with stakeholders and not with Cofek which consisted of non-elected officials. They would have consultations with all stakeholders. He also said that if they continued to give latitude to Cofek, they would have one time regret as, in his opinion, they would take up on everything.

Dr. Ndemo wrote on Kictanet that there was so much unfair trade (which is what Cofek should be doing) in Kenya and there was a need for 10 consumer organisations, but the existing consumer groups had not understood their mandate.

Image courtesy: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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