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Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: TV Stations Go Digital in Seven Regions

By Marc Nkwame, 12 February 2014

Arusha — DESPITE being the first country in East Africa to migrate from analogue to digital Television broadcasting, Tanzania has just managed to roll out signals in seven out of 27 regions on the Mainland.

Kenya on the other hand has been compelled to shelve the shift because a number of broadcasters rushed to block the migration in legal corridors, while the other remaining countries, with the exception of Rwanda, are facing financial constraints and technical challenges that make the transition a non-starter.

That's what is being observed here during the ongoing 'Digital Broadcasting Switchover Forum for Africa 2014' taking place in Arusha under the auspices of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) and the East African Telecommunications Organisation (EATO).

The Director General for the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) Prof John Nkoma has said that the country has successfully completed the first phase of the migration that commenced in December 2012 by covering seven regions and now it was warming up for the second phase.

The shoddy performance of some top-set boxes and decoders have been reported to dog the digital transition in the country while many people, especially in rural areas, find it expensive to add equipment to their home entertainment sets in order to receive TV broadcasts.

The situation is said to be worse in Kenya where consumer bodies have already rushed into legal corridors to block the migration in courts. Broadcasters have also joined the fray claiming that the move caught them unawares.

"Broadcasters claim the move has made them lose audience while also the highly coveted advertisers have been reducing or stopping their airtime purchases something which is affecting the companies financially," stated Mr Francis Wangusi, the Director General for the Communications Commissions of Kenya (CCK).

Prof Tim Urwin, the Secretary-General for CTO said there was a need to fear the shift because eventually people will get used to digital broadcasting that has the advantage of making them interact with content other than just consuming what is being aired. He, however, pointed out the need for educating the masses prior to roll-outs.

Digital Broadcasting Switch-over Forum Africa is one of the most prestigious events on digital broadcasting on the continent. It provides a unique and authoritative annual meeting point for policymakers and regulators to interact with broadcasters, content developers, broadcast network infrastructure providers and operators.

The forum has also brought here equipment manufacturers and opinion leaders to discuss challenges, solutions and opportunities in the ever more fragmented, competitive and innovative broadcasting industry.

Broadcasters in Tanzania, East Africa and the whole continent are committed to beating the June 2015 international digital migration deadline.

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