Standard Digital Entertainment

To watch news, you needed a TV permit

By Editor | Thursday, May 18th 2017 at 07:45

Back in the days, when KTN and other stations were still a rumour and the digital migration was not even a dream, Kenyans required a permit to own TV sets. Reason?

There was only one tube station, KBC. It was and still is government owned. To have it generate its own side revenue (and curb other malpractices like skiving tax and dealing in magendo) saw electronic dealers buying permits from KBC for issuance to their customers.

 It was not uncommon, since television owners in the estate were known, and with Pangani Police Station just around the corner along Juja Road, for plain-clothed coppers to do a msako demanding permits and accompanying receipts.

Those without either were deemed to have stolen the sets and you can picture them carrying sets shoulder high, cable dragging hadharani, as they were escorted towards Pangani Police Station.

The coppers also demanded radio permits as KBC Radio was also the only station whose presenters often instructed listeners to badilisha mita bendi (change frequencies) in between listening to programmes such as Waliobaki Nyumbani and Salamu za Majeshi.

The permits were sold separately from the sets and renewed annually. The liberation of the economy at the end of the Cold War in the 1990s heralded the end of monopolies like KBC and the death of permits and police harassments over the same!

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