Rushed analogue switch-off threatens African TV

A number of factors have been noted that will contribute to most Sub-Saharan not being able to achieve the ITU-mandated 2015 deadline to switch from analogue to digital terrestrial TV services.

London based firm Ovum research has said this is due to a lack of awareness amongst the public that switch-off is impending as well as inadequate funds to roll out digital TV infrastructure and insufficient supplies of set top boxes.

Even so, many governments and regulators across the continent are adamant that the deadline must be met at all costs. As such, numerous sub-Saharan TV markets are considering switching off analogue TV signals before the transition, which will lead to many homes being without any TV reception which will in turn create a decline in TV advertising revenue.

Adam Thomas, Ovum's lead analyst for global TV markets said: “In Tanzania, the switchover process was pushed through recklessly, with damaging results. Thousands of homes lost their ability to watch TV and advertising revenue suffered as a result. But this mentality to rush the process persists, not least in Kenya which seems intent on repeating the same mistakes.”

Ovum also discovered that initial DTT launches are dominated by the pay-DTT services of StarTimes and Multichoice. This has created a market where paid-DTT options of services represent an artificially high percentage of total homes using DTT making people less willing to transition from analog to digital TV if they believe this will mean they have to start paying for TV. The result is that more than 90% of terrestrial TV was still analog at end-2013.

He added: "This early focus on pay DTT has created a misconception among the sub-Saharan audience that DTT is intrinsically a paid service. Once there is awareness that DTT can be received without payment then free-to-air DTT will be the overwhelming choice for most homes and the transition from analog to digital will be better placed to proceed. This may mean StarTimes and Multichoice will be disappointed with the number of pay DTT subscribers that they can ultimately attract.”

DTG Staff  |  15.08.2014

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