No turning back on digital migration - TCRA

Director General of Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Prof John Nkoma
Dr Mkoma
Just a day after media owners called for a review of the move to migrate from analogue to digital television broadcasting, the industry regulator has maintained that it will not backtrack.

On January 1, this year, Tanzania became the first country in the region to switch-off analogue broadcasting. The process started in Dar es Salaam and it is currently being conducted in phases in different regions in the country.

The Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT) said on Monday that the move has left many viewers in the 'dark' and appealed to the government to allow the old system to run concurrently with digital TV broadcasting, to enable players to fully prepare for the switchover.

"We will have a meeting in the near future where we will discuss this matter but what I can say for now is that we do not intend to go back to analogue," the Director General of Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Prof John Nkoma, said.

Prof Nkoma made the remarks during a brief interview on the sidelines of a seminar on radiation held at the TCRA's head offices in Dar es Salaam yesterday. 

The remarks by the TCRA boss echoes those made by the Deputy Minister for Science, Communication and Technology, Mr January Makamba, who stressed on Monday that the government would not make a U-turn on the decision.

"Industry players have been discussing the migration during the past six years and there is no point in going back, our position is that we will keep moving forward. "Delaying the migration will make the process more chaotic when the global deadline of 2015 approaches," Mr Makamba told this Daily News in a telephone interview.

He expressed concerns, however, that even though the TCRA issued licences to three multiplex operators in 2010; only two have started operations so far. "Between 2010 and now we had expected all the three players to be fully operational but that has not happened," the deputy minister said.

The Acting Executive Secretary of TCRA-Consumer Consultative Council (TCRA-CCC), Ms Mary Shao Msuya, complained that limited multiplex operators hinder accessibility and affordability of the technology, for the majority of Tanzanians.

"Consumers are thus subjected to limited choices and most of them cannot afford the prices of decoders and hence denied access to information through TV stations," she told this paper in a recent interview.

In her views, the benefits of the much-hyped digital broadcasting are yet to be realized as viewers are greeted with poor reception than it was with analogue. 

Media owners said some stations may be forced to close down as advertisers are shunning the medium since most of the local channels have been 'blocked' by the new technology.
Source: The Daily News, www.dailynews.co.tz, reported by Alvar Mwakyusa in Dar es Salaam 
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