Kenya’s Communications Authority is beginning the process of reclaiming unused frequencies across the country. CA Director-General Ezra Chioba made the announcement Dec. 22., saying the applicants and license holders have 30 days to bring their operations into compliance or their license would be cancelled.
According to The Standard newspaper in Nairobi, Chioba, who was appointed director-general in September 2021, came into office with an eye towards reforming Kenya’s regulatory framework for broadcasting. As part of this, he said the CA would begin repossessing unused broadcast licenses with the intent of redistributing them to new investors.
“We have in the last few weeks we reviewed and identified those culpable. Accordingly, we have decided to revoke target licenses. This will allow us to re-plan and re-allocate these resources to investors who demonstrate commitment to establish and offer viable broadcasting services,” Chioba said, according to The Standard.
In the notice posted to the CA website, six groups of revocations are outlined, including the cancellation of license offers and revocation of FM frequencies for 60 broadcasters. That list includes large commercial stations like Capital FM, NRG Radio, and Mbaitu FM.
The frequencies in question, in some cases, are for additional transmitters, so the revocation does not mean that all the stations will leave the airways entirely.
In its report on the revocation, Capital FM’s owners stated: “We wish to assure our loyal listeners, clients and other stakeholders that the Management of Capital Group Limited is seized of the matter for total compliance,” using a legal phrase to say they were looking to ensure compliance.
In addition to the 60 license offers, the CA announced the revocation of four frequency assignments to license holders and 18 FM frequencies assignments to non-permit holders who had yet to apply for broadcasting licenses, as well as the rejection of 24 applications for commercial and community radio services who had yet to comply with licensing requirements including paying regulatory fees. Nineteen television licenses and three subscription-based broadcasting services were also marked for revocation of license offers for failure to act within the CA’s prescribed timeline.
Last year, Kenyan authorities announced plans to crackdown on “absentee” license holders and transfers of licenses without prior regulatory approval.