Tanzania to Switch Off Analog TV Broadcasting On December 31

Regulation & Policy

Tanzania will stick to its Dec. 31 deadline for switchover from analogue to digital TV broadcasting, even as experts express pessimism over the capability of the African continent making it by 2015, the globally agreed date, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) said on Monday.

The December deadline was consented by all East African Community (EAC) countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda but some member states, notably Kenya, have already announced their intention to push back the date until they are through with general elections, citing prohibitive cost of acquiring set top boxes.

"As far as Tanzania is concerned, come December 31 midnight and the analogue TV broadcasting will be switched off," TCRA Public Relations Manager Innocent Mungy said.

"The process to effect the deadline is in the final stage. We have been doing it in phases countrywide and we expect to have our last push early next month in all the major cities," he added. He noted that the relatively low TV coverage in the country, only about 15 percent of the population and mainly in urban areas, has also made it easier for Tanzania to adhere to the EAC plan.

Only seven towns out of more than 20, which need to migrate to digital terrestrial TV, are directly covered by terrestrial analogy TV.

The rest of the country either doesn't have TV coverage or people access TV through satellites or cables, which won't need to migrate to digital terrestrial, said Mungy.

According to TCRA's latest statistics, till middle of this year the migration rate was about 25 percent. But since then a lot of areas have been covered, mainly pushed by the government's fiscal incentives to digital broadcasting companies.

Digital broadcasting will necessitate application of a different broadcasting technology. This will oblige viewers to buy digital integrated television sets or set top boxes. 

One of the main challenges in the migration process has always been to get set top boxes cheaper and high-quality, easy to install, and in a massive scale.

Governments have been advised to offer incentives through waiving taxes and coordinating retail distribution.