Uganda races to beat the global Digital Migration deadline

Godfrey Mutabazi ED UCC

The Uganda Communications Commission yesterday emphasized that it plans to switch the whole country from analogue to digital TV broadcasting in the next three months, as it races to beat the June 30, 2015 global digital migration deadline.  The regulator is scheduled to meet the parliamentary committee of ICT to agree on the exact date when the switching off should start. The country has on several occasions failed to beat the 2014 deadline, and it is now rushing to meet the global deadline.

A big number of Ugandans still use analogue television, with most citing the high cost of decoders as the biggest barrier to accessing digital television. According to the New Vision, UCC ED  Godfrey Mutabazi acknowledged that Uganda is behind schedule, and the commission  is ensuring that all the necessary digital equipment has been secured, and the necessary digital signal infrastructure is being laid out across the country, ready for the switch. The said

“We decided to have duo-elimination where both digital and analogue broadcasting platforms run concurrently because we wanted to allow people without DVB-T2 decoders enough time to acquire them.”

We have seen several digital pay TVs slash their decoder prices to make them affordable for the public. Before last week’s announcement of a UGX 8,000 decoder by StarTimes, the initial charge for installing a PayTV using the Digital Terrestrial Transmission (antenna powered) service providers was between UGX 65,000 and UGX 80,000. This is not to mention the high monthly subscription charges that range between UGX 25,000 and UGX 250,000, which is too expensive to most Ugandans.

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The Pay television services providers in Uganda have always attributed the high initial installation costs to high taxes, which they say choke penetration. The service providers say they pay 49% of revenue in taxes that include 25% import duty on dishes, 6% withholding tax and 18% Value Added Tax.

A handful of African countries have concluded the migration exercise including our neighbors  Tanzania and Rwanda with Kenya still stuck in court battles between the state and the broadcasters.