Kenyans have been invited to submit their suggestions, recommendations, and general input on a newly developed draft named the Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) Framework. The proposal, which has been published by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), is here to ensure the efficient use of the available broadcasting spectrum and encourage investment in the broadcasting sub-sector.
The CA has also revealed that sound broadcasting has always been provided through FM radio platforms. However, there has been gradual congestion, which has also led to spectrum scarcity that limits the ability to launch extra services in all major broadcasting areas.
The proposal is ideally a framework that provides a roadmap for broadcasters to develop new content and signal distributors to air the services on DSB platforms such as digital audio broadcasting (DAB) and digital radio Mondiale (DRM).
The said framework has been put together by the CA, alongside the likes of KICTANet and the Association for Progressive Communication.
According to the World Bank data for the year 2020, the population of Kenya stands at 53,771,300 with the majority, 72%, of the population in rural areas compared to 28% in urban areas.
Access to radio in the home in Kenya is 95% for rural and 94% for urban, compared to television at 67% for urban and 40% for rural.
As said, sound broadcasting services in Kenya are exclusively analog and mainly utilize FM apart from a few AM stations in the Medium Wave (MW) band operated by the public broadcaster.
The Kenya Information and Communications Act, of 1998 provides for a broadcasting market structure consisting of public, commercial and community broadcasting services, together with licensed signal distributors.
At the end of June 2021, CA had licensed 186 FM broadcasters comprising 13 public FM radio, 131 commercial FM radio, and 42 community FM radio stations.
Most radio stations air content that balances information, education, and entertainment. According to GeoPoll Internews survey listeners are interested in coverage of topics on security, health, economy, and human rights.
Over 50% of Kenyans get their news from the radio. Media Council of Kenya Status of the Media Report for 2020 shows that radio is one of the main sources of news at 36% compared to television (47%), social media (10%), internet (2%), and newspapers (1%).
There are also radio stations that air spiritual content to audiences who belong to various faiths. These stations include, for example, Family FM, Waumini FM, Hope FM, Biblia Husema FM, and Iqra FM.
Kenyans can submit their comments via email to [email protected] before November 28, 2022.
The draft file can also be downloaded from here.
“To bring this into perspective, the objective of this consultation is to develop a suitable framework for Digital Sound Broadcasting in Kenya to address the challenge of high demand and low availability for analog FM broadcasting frequencies that is currently being experienced,” says CA in a statement.