DTT in Cameroon: CRTV takes the opportunity to reinvent itself with 5 new digital channels

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The government broadcaster in Cameroon CRTV is the signal distributor for the transition to DTT and is taking the opportunity to re-invent itself with new local thematic channels and modern equipment. Balancing Act’s broadcast analyst Sylvain Beletre talked to CRTV and outlines the plans for the digital transition.

Ahmadou Djodji, MSc. Director of Transmission at CRTV, Public TV of Cameroon confirmed to Balancing Act its roadmap for the switch to digital transition subject to further changes.

The country has already started the process. An early meeting was held in Douala in September 2014 to call national broadcasters to the forthcoming changes. In October 2014, Cameroon's Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, launched in Yaounde an initial national campaign of awareness and information on the transition to digital terrestrial television.

Cameroon made the switch to DTT in July 2015 under the control of the Ministry of Communication. It set up Cam-DTV (Digital TV Cameroon project ) to bring together the stakeholders and to manage the process on a day-to-day basis. This body is chaired by the Secretary General of the Prime Minister, Seraphin Magloire Fouda and has broadcast and civil society members and is directly answerable to the Prime Minister.

So far there is DTT transmission in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde and its largest commercial centre Douala and more national roll-outs will follow. But it is in a pilot phase right now. Viewers with access to DTT channels get a bouquet of twelve national and international channels for free, provided they have a set-top box or TVs with a DTT receiver. The final goal is to get at least 75% of the population to have access to DTT signals.

Viewers in these cities and their surroundings can receive TV digitally. The Cameroonian Government has initially set a maximum of 30 channels for the first bouquet of TV channels. CRTV controls the MUX (multiplex DTT) and other channels will be added to the this DTT network by paying a license fee.

"As Food for the DTT process, CRTV is about to create 5 new digital channels: in addition to the existing CRTV channel (the main national public channel), the public entity plans to launch 'La Côtière – the station for the coast”; CRTV News, a news channel; a cultural and regional channel; an educational channel for distance learning, providing low cost education; and an entertainment TV channel. This work will require funding and redeployment or additional staffing," said M. Djodji.

But for now, the DTT MUX broadcasts 12 channels: 4 international channels and 8 national channels. There is the public channel - CRTV - and 7 national channels (channel 2, STV, Equinox, Vision 4, DBS, LTM-TV, Camnews24), and 4 international channels which are Africa24, TV5MONDE, the BBC, and France24. Ultimately, there will be 6 channels from CRTV, 7 channels from Cameroon and 4 international channels to be broadcast with a digital signal, so 17 TV channels in all. It is also expected that there will 2 HD channels, while others will be in SD.

 

To summartise, the DTT process will foster both the emergence of new private players and a more dynamic public player. There will be a wider programme offer, improving the quality of image and sound, creating jobs, and giving the government financial benefits by selling off DTT licences and the re-allocated frequencies freed up from the old analogue television signal to mobile operators for 4G-LTE. Innovations such as VoD, mobile / TV and IPTV have been talked about. Advertising agencies will be created or strengthened.

Our sources confirm that the audiovisual landscape of the country is experiencing a renaissance and that there is a competitive abundance of channels accessible in the country. However, not all are yet of the quality that might be expected. Local programme makers are hoping that they will benefit from the broadcasters’ need for more programming and channels. A national production fund could soon be set up.

The need for more content has been reinforced by creating a legal quota that says there will be 70% of all programmes made locally by 2025. The public broadcaster had to reach its own quota of 40% by the end of 2015 and 60% by the end of 2025. To help encourage local production, broadcasters will need to also fulfill another quota: buying productions from local producers. For the public broadcaster this quota was set at 60% later decreasing to 20% by 2025. For private TV channels it will be half now going up to 80% in 2025.

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