We need clarity on digital migration [Daily Monitor, The (Uganda)]
(Daily Monitor, The (Uganda) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 2014 has been set as the digital migration deadline for Uganda amidst a looming crisis over its implementation by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). With UCC's current ineffective communication and sensitisation work plan; we will certainly never get there. Websites, newspapers, and fliers do not guarantee awareness with since most messages are in English. People in remote areas are left out.
Such information gaps have also given pay- TV-firms a chance to make a kill. UCC got it wrong on the official deadline for digital migration. It is an ignored fact even by the media, the 2006 Treaty allows for an additional five years for a total of 30 African nations beyond the 2015 cut-off point. The resolution on this apparent deadline was adopted in 2006 at a meeting referred to as the Regional Radio communications Conference (RRC-06), and agreed on by 101 nations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Fruits of digital migration in Africa are not that urgent. The same financial resources for this process could instead be allocated to local content development, community media and advancing satellite TV.The cost of purchasing and installing this satellite is a one off and no need to pay monthly subscription because it is free to air. The set-top gadget required to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting signal is still 'work in progress'. There is no known stockist as yet. Disagreements on who should be the independent signal distributor were ignored by UCC. UBC has already shown signs of unfairness. It was the only TV station that stayed on-air during the installation of the digital migration equipment in Kololo.
UCC has not worked with the private sector to market, manufacture or import cheap set –up boxes but has continued to promote the use of Pay- TV decoders. This is an expensive option for an average Ugandan. The decoders being sold by Pay-TV firms in Uganda only allow viewers who have paid subscription fees to access television channels. None of these pay-TV decoders have the all local free to air TV channels. Why would UCC endorse local pay-TV firms with known concerns on quality and limited coverage?
Currently, UCC operates without a law on digital migration. The law would help check on piracy, create a system for fair display of competing programmes, distribution of the digital signal, blocking of some channels with adult related content during certain times, whether a decoder can be switched off for non-payment of subscription TV and/or licence fees, or if it is stolen. We need a law to force all Pay–TV firms to have all local channels as a way of promoting local content.
Little time has been allocated for dual illumination--running two sets of signals simultaneously, analogue and digital. UCC needs to allocate two years for dual illumination. Ivan N Baliboola,email@example.com
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