BOCRA consults on digital terrestrial TV

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has put out a consultation paper on licensing framework for digital terrestrial television for public consumption and feedback.

According to BOCRA, this development forms part of the Authority's intention to “revolutionise digital broadcasting in the country and create an enabling environment for all stakeholders.” Botswana initiated discussion on the licensing framework in 2012; which, however was not completed because of legislative measures which eventually culminated in the establishment of BOCRA in 2013. BOCRA has invited the nation make comments on the proposed paper before the January 2015 deadline.

In the accompanying statement the regulatory body said; "Upon reception of all comments, BOCRA will produce a draft Licensing Framework which will be circulated to all stakeholders and will convene a consultative workshop to finalise the framework," said Aaron Nyelesi, deputy director – corporate communications and relations at BOCRA.

The Paper BOCRA proposes to license commercial television stations using this framework that incorporates both Free-to-View and Subscription-based television, while other classes of licenses will be considered in a holistic licensing framework as may be determined by the Authority. The regulatory body also wants to issue national, regional and zonal or sectional licenses television coverage classes in order to promote the market entrance and growth.

"In order to promote service roll out and ensure equity, BOCRA proposes to use an open and transparent method for licensing of all interested providers including the existing broadcasters. Further BOCRA proposes to issue licenses to only locally registered companies," according to an excerpt from the consultation paper. BOCRA further proposes to license digital terrestrial television on UHF channel 470-698 MHz in order to take advantage of availability of channels and for regional harmonisation.

"This will permit the country to be open for future development for other services," the paper stated. BOCRA also plans to adopt the Geneva 2006 (GE06) frequency plan to facilitate entry to the market, and, considering the size of Botswana, aims to license multi frequency networks in accordance with the GE06 plan.

BOCRA was established on 1 April 2013 pursuant to the Communications Regulatory Authority Act of 2012 [No. 19 of 2012] to assume responsibility over the regulation of the communications sector in Botswana, comprising telecommunications, Internet and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), commercial radio and television communications broadcasting, postal services and related matters.

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