Bilham Kimati, Daily News
March 12, 2013
MEDIA Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT) has advised on the need to review the decision to allow realistic preparations to migrate from analogue to digital TV broadcasting, as the exercise has left many viewers in the 'dark.'
Residents in Dar es Salaam where the switch off was implemented on January 1, this year, have said that apart from the expensive decoders, interruptions during transmission are regularly experienced and many have resorted to not using their TV sets altogether.Speaking on behalf of media owners during a press briefing in Dar es Salaam , Mr Reginald Mengi said although the planned shift was in compliance with international agreements, implementation of the same has inconvenienced many viewers.
"MOAT does not intend to accuse anyone of making a mistake but access to information is people's right. Many have registered complaints and the media in the process fails to deliver services to the public. It is thus important that we look into the matter and prepare well for the migration," he said.
He gave an example of systematic measures taken by developed countries giving both financial support to subscribers and enough time before shifting to digital technology."Countries like UK took 14 years of preparation, USA (11), Spain (10), Japan (8) and so on. The global deadline is 2015. Still the nation has more time to prepare for the shift to the convenience of the people," Mr Mengi advised.
The Deputy Chairman and CEO of Mwanza based Sahara Media Group, Mr Samuel Nyalla said some TV stations are completely unavailable and others are likely to close shop. Adverts previously received by TV stations have dropped significantly because no one wants to pay for an advert that would not be viewed.
"MOAT believes that the decision by the Tanzania Communication and Regulatory Authority (TCRA) did not intend to create problems to viewers or operators, but review of the whole process is inevitable," Mr Nyalla observed.
In attendance was Mr Ruge Mutahaba, Clouds TV Director of Production and Programming who said survey by media stakeholders has revealed that currently there are about 500,000 decoders in use against the estimated three million TV sets owned by households.
"The revelation is straightforward that many TV sets have been put out of use. This is dangerous to TV station operators too because they are obliged to pay monthly fees of 3,800 US dollars but not guaranteed of reception. The decision should be revised," Mr Mutahaba stressed.
Mr Ismail Kowero (36), a resident of Mbagala said he no longer enjoys the comfort of watching TV in his living room since the migration."Decoders are very expensive and consume electricity just like a refrigerator. I feel bad having to go to pubs to watch television programmes, authorities have to rethink the decision," Mr Kowero said.
Mrs Emelda Raymond (28), said she misses watching her favourite local dram on the television every weekend after the switch to digital technology because her husband decided not to buy a decoder.
When reached for comment, Deputy Minister for Communications, Science and Technology, Mr January Makamba, stressed that the government would not make u-turn on its decision. Mr Makamba also dismissed as misplaced claims that the migration was hurried, because all stakeholders were aware of the exercise since 2006.