DTT in Africa: the deadline is now just over 12 months away

Broadcast

Balancing Act has kept track of recent DTT developments up until June 2014 as an update to its recently published market report: "DTT: Analogue to digital migration in Africa - Strategic choices and current developments (2014)".

If Africa is to meet the ITU deadline for the switchover to digital terrestrial television (DTT) it needs to complete it within just one year, by 17 June 2015.



However, for reasons that become apparent in this “DTT in Africa” market report, most countries are unlikely to make this deadline.

Everyone has a stake in the digital migration: television stations need to ensure that they don’t lose customers, which in turn impacts advertising rates and revenue. More channels will require more content, great news for African film and TV program producers. There will be extra spectrum available for telecoms service providers to offer broadband access at affordable rates.

African governments need to ensure people maintain their access to news and information or popular infotainment programming like football; governments also need to keep an eye on and regulate the broadcast content; companies need to run their TV advertising campaigns to find new market share; and consumers need to get regular information and entertainment.

Digital TV has the potential to allow viewers access to a much wider range of channels and better quality content.

The success of this media transformation in Africa is based on several factors:
surveys and feedback from media audiences, the adoption by the legislator of a clear roadmap and guidelines, mobilising government agencies, broadcasters and manufacturers as well as setting up successful partnerships and investing the right amount of money.

For all countries, this transition represents a significant technology change but it is also a social, political and economic change: the cost of the transition is significant, but this brings new content to consumers and frees up new spectrum for telecoms services.

The switchover also involves choices in the evolution of the regulatory framework on the diversity of information and on how audiovisual work is produced and disseminated, as well as needing the involvement of the stakeholders of public information.

For all these reasons, this transition is considered as a political issue across all
African countries: it is to do with the control of a State’s national media landscape and the economic health of a sector.

Source: Balancing Act, 23 May 2014.