TCRA starts licences review exercise for local TV stations

06Dec 2017
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
TCRA starts licences review exercise for local TV stations

THE Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) is reviewing broadcasting licences for local television stations in a move aimed at further streamlining the industry in the post-digital migration period.

According to TCRA principle broadcasting engineer Andrew Kisaka, some of the challenges that have erupted since the digital transition were expected “because of the nature of the business.”

One is said to be the failure of licensed multiplex operators to abide by broadcasting rules and regulations for offering free to air services for local channels as required by the law.

The multiplex operators are Star Media Tanzania, Agape Media, and Basic Transmissions (Digitek and Continental decoders).

Speaking during a familiarisation tour of the TCRA headquarters in Dar es Salaam by the deputy minister for works, transport and communications, Atashasta Nditiye, Kisaka said bones of contention still exist on who is  supposed to pay for the services and,  if it is the multiplex companies to be paid, how much?

The companies often halt free to air programmes for local channels over payment matters despite their licences requiring them to run the programmes as part of their regular services, he asserted.

Although TCRA announced proposed payment rates after a survey back in March this year, it seems the initiative has not helped matters.

Local channels that are required to be free to air are ITV, TBC, Star TV, Channel Ten, Clouds TV, and TV Tumaini.

The deputy minister directed TCRA to ensure the channels are indeed aired for free.

In another development, Nditiye directed TCRA to close all sim card registration centres that do not follow rules and regulations and leave the registration exercise to registered centres owned by service providers.

“We have seen people registering sim cards without following the rules...the government needs to know the identities of everybody who owns a line,” he stressed.

Free-to-air (FTA) are television and radio services broadcast in clear (unencrypted) form, allowing any person with appropriate receiving equipment to receive the signal and view or listen to the content without having to pay a subscription fee, one-off fee, or any other costs.

Tanzania started the migration process in 2006 when it amended its broadcasting laws to accommodate digital broadcasting.