AFRICAN Digital Network is not owned by the Nation Media Group, Standard Media and Royal Media, despite their pushing the government for ADN to be granted a digital platform licence.

On February 23, the Registrar of companies wrote to the Star stating that the owners of ADN were Timothy Charo Odhiambo and John Macharia Maina, who each held 500 shares in the company.

In all their court cases, the consortium of Nation, Standard and Royal Media have been demanding that ADN be granted a digital platform licence.

Yesterday John Macharia, the son of Royal Media owner SK Macharia, denied that he had any shares in ADN. “I have never registered such a company,” he told the Star on the phone.

It was not possible to know who Timothy Odhiambo is, or who he represents.

ADN’s date of registration is shown as midnight, New Year’s Day, 1900. A source at the Registrar of companies said this means that the company is actually still under registration and the process is not complete.

There was no electricity in Kenya until 1908 (in only two towns) and no radio broadcasting until 1927, when the East African Broadcasting Corporation started relaying BBC news to the colonies.

Television broadcasting began in 1962.

A Star reporter went to Commerce House on Moi Avenue, ADN’s alleged registered office, and could find no sign of the company.

Efforts to get a comment from Nation CEO Linus Gitahi were unsuccessful, as he did not pick calls.

Standard CEO Sam Shollei repeatedly disconnected calls to him.

The confusion is likely to delay further the attempt by the three media houses to get their own digital platform.

The Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) has demanded, but not yet received, the CR12 form detailing the directors and shareholders of ADN.

Yesterday, CA Director General Francis Wangusi told the Senate Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee that ADN’s ownership was still in doubt and it could not be issued with a digital platform licence until this is resolved.

At the same time, CA said the High Court lacks jurisdiction to decide on free-to-air TV services on analogue broadcast signals. While arguing for the dismissal of a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah, CA, through lawyer Sisule Munyi, said the matter has already been decided by the country’s highest court.

The Supreme Court ruled the digital migration must continue paving way for CA to switch off analogue television broadcasting.

Omtatah wants the court to direct the state to give the consortium more time to buy the set-top boxes they require to distribute their content. But in response Munyi told Justice Mumbi Ngugi that the High Court should ‘down its tools’ because it lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the application.

“The issues and facts being raised have been litigated substantively by the Supreme Court and a ruling delivered on September 29 and February 13 and the said judgment and orders cannot be subjected to review or questioned by a lower court,” Munyi states in an affidavit.

CA switched off analogue frequencies on February 14, after the stations failed to comply with the court order to switch off their analogue frequencies.

Yesterday CA warned that it will revoke the broadcasting licenses of NTV, KTN and Citizen TV if they do not return on air.

Wangusi said they wrote to the three last week asking them to switch on their stations, especially on digital platforms, and will remind them tomorrow.

“If they are not going to do so we are prepared to take a regulatory action against them, including revocation of the broadcasting licences,” said Wangusi on the sidelines of the East African Communications Organization Conference held in Nairobi.



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