In a continent where less than one-third of households have a TV set, African countries are nevertheless in a race against time to meet the worldwide digital TV transition deadline of June 2015. Some are ahead of schedule and beginning to attract the attention of foreign content-providers, while others have changed their schedule repeatedly in the face of legal challenges, set-top box (STB) shortage, and broadcaster resistance…
Transition in Malawi has suffered a setback with the government turning off the digital TV signal after only one week of operation. The network was shut down following a lack of interest from local broadcasters to apply for signals.
Denis Chirwa, the network’s coordinator in the government said that only Luso and MBC had taken up channel slots out of the 20 now available: “Running a digital broadcasting network is very expensive and government cannot afford to manage two TV stations only out of many that were approved by [regulator] Macra,” he said on Capital Radio.
Broadcasters are expected to make the move from analogue to digital, but have to submit their signals to the Ministry of Information for processing.
Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission has announced that the country’s analogue signal switchoff will begin by June 17 this year. The country has previously announced a digital transition completion date of January 2015.
The switchoff will start in the city of Jos in Plateau State. Emeka Mba, Director-General of the Commission said that the city was chosen for its compact size and number of government and private broadcasting stations, it was reported in the Vanguard. Mba added that the commission was working on getting signal distributors on board to start using the new system immediately.
The Rwanda government has announced that the country will switch off analogue TV transmission completely in six months’ time, according to the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (Rura).
Regis Gatarayiha, Director-General of Rura, said in the New Times: “Initially, the scarcity of digital TV converters had hampered the migration process but with the commitment shown by the authorised vendors of STBs with regard to importation and shipping, we have decided to permanently switch over to digital broadcasting by the end of July.”
Innocent Nkurunziza, Technical Director of the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, the country’s only signal distributor, said: “We have seven free-to-air TV channels that are currently broadcast by RBA. People should buy STBs to access these channels.”
Thousands of digital converters have now been imported, and are selling across the country, with one of the lowest prices being $US34 each.
Lastly, in a country which has steamed ahead with digital transition, some say too early, a Swedish media group has launched a free-to-air TV channel on the DTT network.
The Modern Times Group described the channel, TV1, as a general entertainment network with locally produced news, and said that it was already reaching a third of the 48 million people in Tanzania.
It is the Swedish company’s second free-to-air foray into Africa, having established a channel in Ghana six years ago.
Tanzania began switching off analogue signal in December 2012, meeting the deadline set by the five-member East African Community.
Image: Videotaping newsreels in Rwanda. Creative Commons/Internews