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One month to Kampala digital switchover

By Omondi Julius Odera, Kampala, Uganda

The much awaited and publicized digital migration for television in Uganda will kick off with Kampala City in the lead role. This has been announced by Uganda Communication Commission (UCC), which also noted that the transition from using the analogue television signal to digital is on course with major milestones likely to be attained by mid this year.

UCC contracted Harris Corporation with about $2 million last year to digitize Kampala and its neighborhood. The commission has now confirmed the arrival of vital equipment to be used in the digitalization process which included digital transmitters that will be used to implement the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting in Kampala and areas in a radius of 150 kilometres from the city. “Since all the major equipment we have been waiting for has already arrived, we expect the process of digitizing Kampala and its environs to be completed before the end of June,” noted Godfrey Mutabazi Executive director of the commission.

If this comes to pass as promised by UCC, it would be a delayed promise because the commission had promised the switching over of Kampala and its environs by December 31st 2012, before the move was postponed to April and now June 2013.

Some stakeholders in the industry noted that numerous delays being witnessed are mainly attributed to limited funding, contradictions and fights between UCC-the regulator and Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC)-the licensed signal distributor.

It is also not clear how the process will be completed given the fact that, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation the state Television and the registered sole signal distributor is underfunded and poorly managed thus, incapable of completing the process.

The private players in the pay TV sector in Uganda have been on the increase with over five players now including Multichoice DSTV, Chinese Star Times, and Zuku TV taking the lead roles. The players have constantly urged the government to quickly complete this long awaited process of digital migration as they hope to increase their monetary gains if the country is fully digitized.

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