Malawi government calls for set-top box distributors

By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi

The Malawi government, through the Ministry of Information, Tourism and culture which is implementing the Digital Broadcasting Migration Project (DBMP) under the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), has called for applications from would-be distributors of DVB-T2 compliant set-up-boxes.

While this process is ongoing, a team of top government officials has gone full throttle in sensitizing Malawians about the project.

Government says it intends to prequalify potential authorised distributors of DVB-T2 complaint set top boxes in the country considering that as a member if the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Malawi is also expected to migrate from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting by June 17, 2015.

Considering that the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) ministers responsible for ICT adopted the Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial 2 (DVB-T2) with Moving Picture Expert Group (MPEG -4) compression as the transmission standard for the region Malawi has decided to instead adopt the same as a national standard.

“DVB-T2 is capable of handling up to 20 standard definition TV channels and 20 audio channels using one transmission frequency,” says government is a notice places in local newspapers on Wednesday.

The call from government on the prequalification is aimed at ensuring that there is a country wide availability of the DVB-T2 compliant set-up-boxes at an affordable price especially to low income earners.

Further, this assignment Government says it seeks to protect the consumer from unscrupulous suppliers who may provide non-complaint set-up-boxes.

The government is therefore calling on contributors who can supply the same who should provide information indicating that they are qualified.    

Government has kick-started its a sensitisation awareness meetings in the country’s northern capital of Mzuzu where Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture Principal Secretary, Chimwemwe Banda conceded that there is little or no awareness among citizens on digital broadcasting technology.

She admitted that many people are not aware of the digital migration issue, a situation that may result in people not being ready and willing for transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

”The whole process requires efficient and effective public awareness to prepare stakeholders and the public to understand the advantages, risks and actions required to migrate to digital television broadcasting so that they are ready to accept, embrace, support and to adopt the change,” she explained.

The principal secretary said since her ministry developed the Digital Broadcasting Communication Strategy it has been a guiding tool for sensitising all stakeholders and the general public to create awareness.

“The strategy will also ensure that there is smooth migration from analogue to digital broadcasting in line with the Malawi Digital Broadcasting Policy,” she said.

Banda, however, said the task of creating awareness on digital broadcasting is quite enormous and requires collaborative effort between government and stakeholders in the broadcasting industry.

“Government will now, starting next week go full throttle in sensitizing people come about the new system,” she said.

Part of the team carrying out the sensitization process also comes from the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) and its Technical Advisor for Digital Migration, Benson Tembo, said the digital terrestrial television broadcasting technology has a lot of advantages to the country.

To begin with he says it allows for increased competition in telecommunications and broadcasting industries due to the innovation opportunities and efficiency gains, thereby leading to better services and lower prices.

“The Malawi government has made tremendous strides to ensure that the set date is achieved as even the company which will be distributing content signal, The Malawi Digital Broadcasting Network Limited, has already been established,” he explained.

Tembo also said, currently, Malawi has over 25 licensed television broadcasters; meaning that at least 25 frequencies have been allocated restricted frequency.

 

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