Broadcasters Cry Foul As Digital Migration Deadline Closes In


purchase health geneva;”>He noted that Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) the projected official transmission distributor has already acquired most of the necessary initial digital equipment which are currently being planted at Kololo.

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“On May 10, we will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony to flag off the migration and come June this year, a better part of Kampala and other surrounding cities should have shifted to the digital signal,” said Rugunda as he addressed the press at Hotel Africana on Friday.

Uganda media houses proprietors under their umbrella body the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) however, are deeply concerned that despite these insinuations, Uganda is unlikely to beat the 2015 digital migration deadline.

During their Friday Annual General meeting, NAB Vice Chairperson, Kin Kariisa faulted government for not doing enough to support UBC in adopting nationwide digital migration coverage.

He noted that the said digital transmission equipment acquired by the corporation can only cater for stations around Kampala area yet the country is mandated to enforce full national coverage come 2015, which has only got months left.

“In our consultative meeting with stakeholders in Munyonyo last week, a World Bank expert backed with well researched information and data, intimated to us that in East Africa, only Uganda and Burundi are unlikely to meet the 2015 deadline, sighting various administrative and logistical deficiencies.”

Kariisa added: “Having a digital signal in Kampala alone is only a drop in an ocean especially considering of the fact that most of the central region is already covered by Digital Migration pilot projects such as, Go TV and Star times unlike in most rural areas.”

Neighbouring Kenya has moved many steps ahead in the migration process and so far broadcasters have taken to court to challenge having a sole transmission provider, while in Tanzania, analogue TV in urban areas including Dar-es-Salaam has already been switched off.

NAB members called upon government to look at the migration in a holistic approach, “Not by just purchasing equipment and planting them at Kololo, but also bearing in mind of how Ugandans will access digital television services”

“By now government must think of tax waivers on set-top boxes and decoders because without such subsidies, we can be assured of a good section of the populace being left out in accessing television.” Kariisa said.

Radio North’s Dickens Okello reemphasised this and also implored government to subsidise fuel costs for radio operators since they their transmission power costs will not be met by UBC.

“Government recently eliminated the road tax and said it would be included on the general fuel cost. This implies that we radio operators will have to face cost on fuel for generators to run both studio and transmitters, which hampers our competitiveness alongside our TV counterparts,” he added.

“If government can dish out such insane amounts of money to Basajjabalaba, this should not cause any difficulty in lending us a hand in this business cause,” roared Metro FM’s Captain Francis Babu, Chairman of the Association.

NAB members also raised concerns over the fate of old television sets that will ultimately have to be disposed of all over the place during the migration process, since government has not yet come up with a clear policy of such e-waste management systems, and this could be detrimental to the lives of Ugandans especially urban dwellers.

Rugunda also acknowledged the possibilities of technological breakdowns along the migration process and promised government utmost efforts to neutralise as many of them as possible. “Like any other new development, High tech systems overtures have their own implementation shortfalls especially in developing countries like Uganda,” he said.

“Fortunately we have good experts and numerous lessons to learn from like was the case during the recently concluded Kenyan election tallying process. Our teams are ready to counter ay of such unfortunate crashes,” he noted.


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