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March 12, 2013

Media Owners Want Analogue Broadcasts Back

 Association of Tanzania (MOAT) Chairman and IPP Executive Chairman Dr Reginald Mengi (C) stresses a point at a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday called to discuss the effect of the recent migration from analogue to digital broadcasting in parts of the country. With him are Sahara Media Group Limited CEO Samwel Nyalla (R) and Clouds Media Group director for Strategy and Development, Ruge Mutahaba. (Photo: Tryphone Mweji) Media owners have pleaded with the government to consider reverting to analogue broadcasting, saying the recent migration to digital technology is denying the vast majority of Tanzanians their right to information. Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday, they argued that analogue broadcasting run in tandem with the digital system so as to give television stations and the people ample time to prepare for the migration. They added that the migration to digital broadcasting has not only widened the gap between the rich and the poor but has also wreaked havoc on their businesses in terms of advertisement revenue lost. Media Association of Tanzania (MOAT) chairman Dr Reginald Mengi said since the switch to digital broadcasting took effect in parts of the country, members of the public have been complaining that the government rushed the process. “I am not criticising the process but the rush to switch off analogue broadcasting has adversely affected the majority of the people as well as media owners,” he said. He said Article 18 of the Constitution of Tanzania guarantees the people their right to information but after the switch-off, many have been denied this right since the process has brought along a number of factors impeding access to information. “The financial status of the majority of the people of Tanzania is still too miserably low for them to afford decoders and monthly recharge packages, which widens the gap between the rich and the poor all the more,” he added. Dr Mengi, who is also IPP Executive Chairman, called on the government to assess the situation as soon as practicable so as to enable the entire citizens to access information freely as guaranteed by the country’s Constitution. Elaborating on how migration to digital broadcasting has affected television stations, he said advertisers now buy much less airtime than previously for fear that their advertisements would not reach as many viewers as expected since the switch has shut out many viewers. “This might result in some local television stations ceasing to broadcast, eventually forcing them to close shop because the switch to digital technology has enormously eaten into their incomes,” he noted. He said Tanzanians should not be surprised when the time comes for some television stations to opt out of the broadcasting industry, warning: “That is where we are heading … If the government won’t work on this issue immediately, some media owners will be left with no choice but to close down their television stations.” The MOAT Chairman noted that if the situation is not addressed appropriately soon enough, members of the association would have to organise themselves and engage in other businesses. Ruge Mutahaba, Director for Strategy and Development at Clouds Media Group, meanwhile said the migration from analogue broadcasting has made operational costs skyrocket owing to a decline in the flow and volume of advertisements. He concurred with Dr Mengi that media owners have been seriously affected by the situation as most ordinary people cannot afford decoders. Sahara Media CEO Samuel Nyalla echoed the sentiments, saying media owners are swiftly losing control of their stations owing to diminished incomes and shortage of advertisements. He added that it was much better that they closed shop and concentrated on other ventures. The Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) says only 600,000 decoders have been sold countrywide so far, which comes to a negligible number relative to the country’s population of 45 million.
 SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN

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