Broadcasters in East Africa Prepare to Capitalise On the Opportunities From the Digital Transition

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Last week Tanzania has became the first mainland African country to declare that it has completed the digital transition. New channels are now available to free-to-air viewers on their set-top boxes.

This provides an interesting opportunity for the delgates to the Broadcast, Film and Music Africa Conference taking place at the end of the month to look at these new opportunities.

The catch with the Tanzanian announcement is that the country has simply completed the installation of the transmission infrastructure, the supply side of the equation.

No-one knows whether all TV households in Tanzania (the demand side) have yet made the transition. Although there is no data yet, poorer households are less likely to have made the switch. However, this
approach may yet become the default for African countries as they limp towards the ITU’s 2015 deadline.

Mauritius, which is the only other African country to claim to be near completion, has adopted a much more careful approach. The regulator ICTA, in partnership with the Post Office, is carrying out a survey to identify how many people have still not switched from analogue to digital.

As Kenya prepares to be the second country in East Africa to transition to digital broadcast (after Tanzania), industry players are regrouping to capitalise on opportunities that increased bandwidth will
provide.

“This is the season for change especially on the TV front,” said Sean Moroney, Chairman and founder of AITEC Africa, organisers of this month’s ‘Broadcast, Film and Music Africa’ conference (see details
below).

However, he warns that a lack of sufficient information could potentially derail industry gains. “When it comes to digital terrestrial television (DTT), several African countries won’t hit the International
Telecommunication Union’s deadline on time.

Many countries still hesitate between technology standards and few are aware of best practices for digital television implementation and the ideal PPP (public private partnership) mix,” he said.

For those stations that have resolved technical issues, the focus will be on how to sustain audiences and attract adverts, and this Moroney said will require a better understanding of audiences through
surveys, which will help develop new business models.

 

Balancing Act (London)

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