I have to confess that I am pretty tickled and amused by the bulldozer tactics being adopted by our private broadcasters who for the longest time have been referred to as the “Big 3” in Kenya’s media industry.
Digital migration has been anticipated for the longest time and it is not an alien that accidentally dropped into the Kenyan media space.It has been a discussion not only in Kenya but in the rest of the world as well. As a rule of thumb when one starts a business generated from their intellectual property, it is only prudent to always anticipate the future. In the IP world we call it disruptive innovation while Ms. Mutoko calls it the tyranny of success. Look at what happened to IBM and Kodak!
In my view though, the biggest beneficiaries of this tiny tantrum should be the artists. There is no time like the present for the Collective Management Societies (CMOs) to quickly move the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) to include CMO licenses as a prerequisite for one to acquire a digital license. This is an idea that was being fronted back in 2011-2012 but is yet to materialize. The CMOs have been struggling to get some of these and other major media players to comply with the Copyright Act for the use of music. MCSK, KAMP and PRISK…Action? As we watch the outcome of this tantrum, I hope you are ready with your demands.
As we speak, I am sure there is millions in advertising revenue being lost by the three media houses while other media stations are gaining momentum. Word has it that in the last 3 days Radio Africa has made over 50 Million in advertising revenue through their Bamba TV channels. Revenue which has been reallocated by advertising agencies. How remarkable is that? And I am willing to bet their others who have also gained as a result of this tantrum.
If the “Big 3” thought that their fans would stop breathing when they went off air on digital platforms, they thought wrong. If anything, in my view they are digging a very deep hole for themselves. What about all the contracts in place? Content Broadcast Agreements? Advertising Agreements? The media plans agreed upon for various ad campaigns? I do not think I need to spell it out.
As these three stations are busy throwing a tantrum, let us look at the positive side of digital migration. First things first, it is almost as easy as 1,2, 3 to own a digital channel. Gone are the days when owning a TV station was for the big wigs. No more hogging of tv signals/ frequencies as it was with the analogue system.
I recently got acquainted with an individual who successfully qualified for a digital channel. For now, they choose to be anonymous. They explained to me that it was a rather quick and painless process. The process starts with pre-qualification upon expression of interest through the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK). Upon approval, one is given an interim 3 month license to operate a digital channel. If one manages to run the 3 month license consistently they become eligible for a digital license. I am conducting further research to document this process, but do you see how easy it is?
The more players we have in the market the more opportunities there are for content producers and even the wannabes, and I do not mean that in any derogatory manner. This space right now, will allow anyone with interest to be a content producer or provider to become one. The demand is there and so is the supply. If you have always been dreaming of hosting your own show, well, now you can. There is nothing stopping you. And if you have content that never saw light in the broadcast realm, now is your turn. By all means, please be my guest. Be advised though, take caution before you sign on any dotted line. You would not want to sell yourself short.
Did I mention jobs? The creation of employment is something we will heavily benefit from as well. How many qualified media personnel are job hunting as you read this? This space just became more competitive and engaging. So many possibilities…
As I conclude, I want to congratulate CAK for proving to us that the law applies equally in the animal kingdom. No body or person is above the law. Thank you for sticking to your guns. I hope all other State bodies are watching. We expect nothing less henceforth.
Image sources: vacupractor.com & punchdebtintheface.com