Red tape slows digital migration

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

The next stage of Malawi’s digital migration process has been delayed as it awaits cabinet scrutiny.

At a digital migration message development workshop in Zomba earlier this week, the Director of Information and Civic Education, Isaac Ziba, said a team set up to conduct the task last month had concluded the drafting of the policy on the new technology. This now awaits submission to cabinet ministers in October.

Acknowledging that the process has taken a snail’s pace, Ziba said: “We have made some progress, although we could have done better.”

While most countries in the region have procured the necessary technology to effect the migration, Malawi is still tinkering with different options on how best to execute the migration process.

“There is also a statement on the whole digital migration process which will be presented to Cabinet for approval so that we can start procuring required equipment and implementing the communication strategy,” Ziba said.

Malawi is expected to switch to digital broadcasting by 31 December 2013, and already unveiled its Digital Migration Communication Strategy expected to provide a framework for communication of the Digital Broadcasting Migration Project.

The digital migration message development workshop is part of this draft policy, which aims at sensitizing all stakeholders and the public. 

The strategy is intended for all stakeholders who will be affected by the migration process from analogue to digital broadcasting and will also ensure that all affected stakeholders understand and fully participate in accordance with their roles in the country. 

Ziba said limited funding and lack of full time staff on the project had limited its progress.

“Our wish is that all licenced TV operators should broadcast on a digital platform. It would be immoral to us for them to start broadcasting on analogue platform and then you tell them to switch off to digital after they have already spent a lot of money on analogue equipment,” explained Ziba, who revealed that government has allocated K500 million in the current budget to expedite the process.

The information director said under digital transmission, all television service consumers will be required to have decoders to watch all television programming, including MBC-TV.

“The new technology will enable consumers to receive several television channels with high quality pictures and sound at once,” said Ziba.

 

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