Chinese firm PANG buys four new television frequencies

Communication Authority of Kenya

The Communication Authority of Kenya headquarters in Westlands, Nairobi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Chinese-owned broadcaster Pan Africa Network Group (PANG) has bought four new television broadcasting frequencies from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), extending its TV network coverage in the country.

China’s StarTimes China Africa Digital TV Media Ltd owns a 93.75 percent stake in PANG, with Excel Magic owning a share of 6.25 percent.

Following the acquisition of the new Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) frequencies, PANG now has 129 assigned frequencies, an increase from 125, extending its lead as the broadcaster with the highest number of frequencies in the country.

Meanwhile, its competitors – Africa Digital Network (AND), GOtv Kenya, Lancia Digital Broadcasting and Signet Signal Distributors – remained with 38, 61, 14 and 120 frequencies respectively.

“The Authority assigned four additional DTT frequencies bringing the cumulative number of assignments to 362, compared to 358 in the previous year,” said CA in its annual report for the year to June 2023.

StarTimes was founded in China in 1988 but launched in Africa in 2008, raising competition in a market dominated by leading networks such as MultiChoice, which provides DStv and GOtv.

StarTimes has been trying to increase its viewership in recent years with expansion of its content offerings including sports, reality, movies, kids shows, business and news.

According to CA, DTT remains the most popular platform to access subscription broadcasting services since Kenya migrated from analogue to digital transmission nearly a decade ago.

About 4.48 million Kenyans subscribed to DTT services in the quarter to December 2023 accounting for 70.4 percent of subscriptions to broadcasting services in Kenya.

Meanwhile, Director-to-Home (DTH) accounted for 28.4 percent of the total subscriptions to broadcasting services during the period.

“This could be due to the relative affordability of monthly subscription fees compared to cable and DTH thus resulting in mass access at the lower market segments,” said CA.

Kenyans have however been facing higher prices of broadcasting services due to a weak shilling in recent years, raising their cost of monthly subscriptions.

MultiChoice Kenya for instance raised DStv prices by 6 percent in April, marking the third price increase in a year, dealing a blow to the entertainment budgets of households and businesses.

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