Kenya's media industry is bracing for interesting times with the
planned launch of two new daily newspapers and the entry into the
market of a second pay television channel, writes Eric Nyakagwa.

Radio Africa, which currently operates two FM stations, Kiss 100 and Classic 105, plans to plunge into the newspaper world on July 1 with the launch of Nairobi Star, which being touted as Kenya's first full colour daily newspaper.

Apart from sparking stiff competition for staff, the move to launch a newspaper targeting the capital Nairobi is also said to have sent the Nation Media Group , the country and East Africa's largest media house back to the drawing board and there are reports that it plans to launch yet another daily only months after the exclusively business-oriented Business Daily hit the newsstands.

The move is, however, being received by toasts from Kenyan journalists as competition has resulted in better terms and conditions of service in many of the media houses.

Meanwhile, the UK-based Gateway Communications (GTV)'s entry into Kenya has ended the monopoly that Multi-Choice Kenya has enjoyed in the pay TV market segment, especially after GTV clinched a deal for the live broadcasting of English Premier League matches.

Hitherto, the South African-based Naspers' DSTV network, operated by MultiChoice, has enjoyed a monopoly on pay-TV in English-speaking Africa, broadcasting more than 50 channels ranging from SuperSport and CNN news to MTV to over a million subscribers in 50 countries.

Competition in Kenya is likely to be stiff in live football broadcasting. Supersport is presently the most popular in a country where support for English teams is one of the highest in Africa.

The entry of GTV Africa, whose satellite service is cheaper than Multichoice's, has seen the latter launch a spirited campaign aimed at retaining much of its market segment and this month launched a new bouquet costing just Shs 1,300 (US$ 19.12).

GTV, which plans to start in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, is promising to provide a blend of international and local entertainment content with a subscription price aimed at penetrating the African television market; with its bait being relevant content and a paradigm shift from what it calls artificially induced high monopolistic pricing.