The Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority ( TCRA) has said no person will be required to have more than one decoder to have access to free-to-air channels after switching to digital broadcasting at the end of the year.
Addressing members of Parliament yesterday during a seminar on the subject, TCRA Communications Manager Innocent Mungy said currently free-to-air channels are posted into different service providers, each with its own decoder.
A few such channels use decoders sold by Agape Associates and others use decoders sold by Star Times Limited.
The Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) of 2010 formalises the long planned shift from analogue to digital broadcasting.
December 31, 2012 is the ceasing of broadcasting services in analogue technology, and from January next year all companies selling decoders will be required to ensure that all free-to-air channels are accessible by the public.
“All preparations are going on well to ensure that every service provider slots all the free-to-air channels into their decoders. The competition will be on some packages of channels,” Mungy stressed.
The shift from analogue to digital will not involve radio stations but TV broadcasting, he said, with some legislators recently urging TCRA to speed up formulating regulations to ensure decoders will have most available channels.
John Mnyika, Ubungo MP said it was satisfying that some channels will continue being accessible without paying for a specific package.
He cautioned the government over the pricing of decoders saying their prices are too high for low income earners.
“We experience difficulties when we talk of development while placing high prices on the item. How are people in the rural areas who spend months saving for a TV set purchase a decoder at prices like Sh60,000 and Sh250,000, he asked.
Already different service providers have set prices of decoders, but none charges less than Sh60,000 per decoder.
Juma Nkamia, (Kondoa South-CCM) alerted the government that some businessmen were importing large numbers of analogue TV sets despite being unusable by the end of the year. Some containers had already arrived at the port of Dar es Salaam, he said.
“How will people switch over with stacks of new analogue phones if you are going to switch off analogue by December 31,” the MP demanded.
Nkamia noted that the large old version TV sets were imported from China, whose Star Media is contracted by the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) to administer the switching over project.
“These imports just make our country a dumping place for e-waste. Why is it that no government official has raised his voice on these imports,” he queried.