By MWENDA wa MICHENI
Why did Africa have to embrace this nonsense of the digital television? The big brothers said it is the way into civilisation and we had to follow? Better quality of screen pictures, more TV frequencies? Not convincing at all. Honestly why should I care about this meaningless jargon? Who cares if I have had an issue with the quality of my Kenyan comediesPapashirandula and Beba Beba?
I won’t easily buy into that capitalistic manouvres plotting to upset my humble pocket; it’s just the other day when I spent on a TV box and now another bill on a new set or some box.
From what I have read, all won’t be as rosy as they announced last week when they switched on the digital broadcasting platform- in Kenya.
South Africa, the US, even the UK; have been struggling with this digital animal and guess what, it’s been chaos, confusion even bankruptcy of some businesses. This is despite the heavy subsidies they are offering. In Kenya, nothing like that is on the cards.
With the anticipated number of signals, there certainly will be serious media fragmentation, serious discounting to survive and as we have witnessed with the breakout of the FM radio disease in most countries around Africa, serious ethical challenges as competition opens opportunity for mediocrity.
Instead of achieving what some of the government intends to- that is cripple what she has perceived as increasingly powerful media- the likely outcome might be the sort of chaos that post-election crisis Kenya and the Rwanda genocide posed.
But for now, forget the business and political sides to this argument. By 2000, my village had countable televisions sets- two or three within a radius of 10km? One privileged teacher here, another nurse on the other side of the ridge. Most of these were understandably very mean- even when we seriously wanted to catch up with Vioja Mahakamani (Kenyan Kiswahili courtroom dram) the programme that was talk of schools, or even high adrenalin wrestling drama, you were never assured. Doors would even get locked on you.
In the new decade, great wall TV entered the Kenyan market; solar energy came closer to the village. A few more TV sets came into the village. This was wow! A few more houses owned TV sets for Sh3,500 (US$46) or thereabout, but it still took a while. And now you want the village to go back shopping for a TV set at a cost of an acre of land?
The box they have been talking about is not cheap either, or is it? You know what, to hell with television, back to my primitive ways if that is what it is.