Uganda: Digital Migration Awareness Gets Boost

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The digital migration awareness gap could soon be narrowed as pay television service providers seek partner with the government and subscribers to deepen public understanding of the new technology.

Private players that have so far declared intentions of partnering with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in pushing for broader awareness are executives of the Uganda Pay TV and Subscriber's Association and pay TV service providers StarTimes.

The association chairman, Omar Lwasa, contends that the Government alone cannot successfully execute the awareness drive without the input of the informed and knowledgeable subscribers and service providers because they have a direct and regular touch with the public.

"We intend to use an approach comprising print and electronic media to enhance the flow of information about digital migration whose deadline is near. The public as the key stakeholder is not adequately aware of its responsibilities in the process and the values that the technology will bring," he said.

State minister for information and communication technology Nyombi Thembo noted that other partners such as the media also have a duty to assist the Government in prioritising publicity about digital migration technology so that it does not take television viewers by a surprise.

Digital migration is a mandatory transition from analogue to digital terrestrial transmission, a process that will require owners of television sets with analogue receivers to buy digital Set Top Boxes (decoders) to make the sets compatible with digital broadcasting. Those without decoders will be switched off air by UCC effective 2015.

By going digital, the television industry seeks to adapt technology that delivers more channels per frequency, as well as crystal clear images and sound.

The current 20 free to air TV channels in Uganda use 20 frequencies (a frequency per channel), but in digital transmission, all the 20 channels can be carried through a single frequency without even consuming all its space. Simon Arineitwe, the StarTimes country marketing manager, said the public needs to be encouraged to acquire decoders before the deadline.

To this effect, the firm initiated a sh100m promotion drive that will see the public winning television sets, cash and free months of subscription upon buying decoders and paying subscription.

On a similar development, Vision Group imported state of the art live television broadcasting equipment for Bukedde Television and Urban Television to boost performance and enable viewers derive more value from the services provided.