DRC TV turns to StarTimes to go digital

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, in Kinshasa, DR Congo

A number of TV stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are turning to pay TV company StarTimes to help them digitise their content, as the country’s DTT process seems to be limping off.

Privately-owned stations such as Télé50 and RTGA and even the public broadcaster, RTNC, are already covered by the wings of Chinese-owned StarTimes.

Technology analyst Jean-Albert Longange said this get-around exercise could save them from a sudden death in case the country does not meet the International Telecommunication Union’s 17 June 2015 deadline.

The cost of joining StarTimes stands at US$7 500 – quite a fortune for more than 80 under-resourced and amateurish TV stations currently broadcasting across this vast mineral-rich nation.

“Forget about the cost, it’s worthwhile spending such an amount because the exercise gives them an edge over their competitors, and makes them look serious, professional and well-organised in this polluted sector,” he said.

TV viewers across this Central African country are delighted by the move, and have urged other folks to follow suit.

“The images of RTNC2, RTGA and Télé50 are beautiful to see, and I think the time is now for the other stations to show us what they are capable of,” LaJoie Kimbembi told Biztechafrica in the capital Kinshasa.

Télé50, which is owned by Jean-Marie Kasamba, a wealthy businessman allied to the regime, has been creating awareness around its StarTimes connection through print media ads.

StarTimes, which launched its DRC operations in July 2013, uses the DTT-powered technology which its director Phillipe Zoulo said protects pictures against natural hazards such as rain, wind and storms.

Experts have warned the government against using the Chinese system DTMB for its DTT process, making it clear that the DVB-T2, a new European system that is succeeding its ‘brother’ DVB-T, will be a good choice.



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