Kenya secures first ‘free-to-air’ sports channel

Kenya secures first ‘free-to-air’ sports channel

By Elvis Majani & Nick Osoro[1]

In Kenya, sports policy is an important framework that is used in an attempt to achieve national development objectives; it provides a guide that is helpful and can be applied in sports governance.[2] ‘Free-to-Air’ (FTA) means broadcasters and channels that provide content for which no payment or subscription is required, even though delivery to the viewer/listener may be made by another media organisation for which a subscription is required.

The occurrence of digital migration in Kenya, as from 17 June, 2015, opened up the media space to new players, and this has seen the number of channels increase dramatically.[3] One of these new players, Econet Media, launched Kwesé TV in early 2016: a free-to-air sports channel that offers coverage of a variety of sports. The first sporting event, after broadcasting started on 11 August 2016, to be aired was the Premier League live match game between Everton and Tottenham on Saturday, 13 August 2016.

As regards local sports events, its first broadcast was aired on 6 November, 2016 from the KCB Rally at Kajiado County. This shows that the channel will increase both local and international sports coverage, thus enabling talent to be exposed on a wider scale. In realisation of the key task ahead, and, as part of their strategy, the broadcaster will encourage creation of content to satisfy a wide sporting audience.

It is noteworthy that Kenya is the first African hub for this launch; this was partly made possible by the provisions of the Sports Act 2013 and the general conducive environment for investment. That sport is a popular cultural output in Kenya is well known, therefore, to encourage further engagement of culture and civil participation, Kwese Free Sports TV Channel will make sport available and affordable to all.[4]

This move is a welcome one and a boost to the digital television migration process in Kenya, as Kwesé Free Sports channel is available on any FTA set-top box (STB) or digital TV with a built-in STB.

[1] Founding Members of the Centre for Sports Law, Nairobi, Kenya.

[2] Kipchumba Byron et al , ‘Sports policy in Kenya: Deconstruction of Colonial and Post-Colonial Conditions (2015) 301-313 | Published online: 26 March 2015

[3] In 2006, Kenya and other countries across the Globe signed a Treaty at the conclusion of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Regional Radio Communication Conference in Geneva, a treaty that signaled the development of all digital terrestrial broadcast services.

[4]Tom Evens et al, The Political Economy of Television Sports Rights; Part of the series Palgrave Global Media Policy and Business (2013) 68-84.