Lack of sensitisation on digital migration worries Livingstone residents

THE deadline is set, Cabinet has approved the policy. But how ready are ordinary Zambian citizens for digital migration?   Livingstone residents are gripped with lack of information on digital migration amidst the looming deadline.  

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set 15th June, 2015 as the deadline for all the countries worldwide to move from analogue to digital broadcasting. The underlying principle of digital migration is to improve the image quality and to allow more channels in the same broadcast spectrum to run at lower costs. It also brings about the flexibility to embed a variety of non-video aspects in the transmission of data such as time and region based controls, copy restrictions and program guides. Livingstone residents are however gripped with fear as they lack information on digital migration. THE deadline is set, Cabinet has approved the policy. But how ready are ordinary Zambian citizens for digital migration?
 
Livingstone residents are gripped with lack of information on digital migration amidst the looming deadline.
 
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set 15th June, 2015 as the deadline for all the countries worldwide to move from analogue to digital broadcasting. Since analogue television was introduced in the 1940s, technology has progressed to great heights such that transmission is no longer efficient. Digital migration is therefore, a way of making broadcasting more effective.
 
Information and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister Poniso Njeulu says migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting is inevitable in Zambia due to the deadline set.
 
Mr. Njeulu adds that early this year, Cabinet approved the Policy on Digital Migration in readiness to meet the deadline.
 
He says with the approval of the policy, government through his ministry will scale up public sensitization about digital migration.
 
He notes that it is government’s obligation together with all stakeholders to explain the process of migration for all citizens to be aware of what is happening in the country and across the world.
 
Mr. Njeulu says while undertaking public sensitization meetings, government will take on board the concerns and views of the general public and media houses that play a key role in offering broadcasting services.
 
He charges that Zambia will be acting in conformity with the provisions of the Geneva 2006 (GE06) Digital TV Broadcasting plan. The plan is a transformation of the old Analogue Television Plan (174-230MHz and 470-862MHz) and encompasses Europe, Arab States and Africa.
 
“The change is mainly meant to address the rising demand for Terrestrial Television Broadcasting. With digital transmission, up to eight Television programmes can be transmitted on a spectrum or frequency space of a single Analogue programme,” he explains.
 
Mr. Njeulu further notes that as a result of increased capacity, some spectrum will be freed-up for use by the broadband wireless access services. Other than capacity increase, digital transmission delivers superior quality with value added services such as tele-text, online programming guides and Governance and Commerce.
 
He further says Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states including Zambia have to switch to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) by 31st December 2014 as agreed.
 
“Switching from analogue to digital has numerous advantages such as free access to information, greater citizen participation and increased job opportunities which is one of the priorities of government,” says Mr. Njeulu.
 
The underlying principle of digital migration is to improve the image quality and to allow more channels in the same broadcast spectrum to run at lower costs. It also brings about the flexibility to embed a variety of non-video aspects in the transmission of data such as time and region based controls, copy restrictions and program guides.
 
Some of the African countries including Namibia and Mauritius have adopted the DVB-T standard and commenced digital broadcasting. Namibia has had a DTT service (pioneered by Multi Choice) since 2005 (though terrestrial reception is confined to Windhoek) and Mauritius has had digital terrestrial services since 2006.
 
However, some Livingstone Residents have mixed feelings about the approaching digital migration as they have been poorly informed by the relevant authorities.
One of the residents, Gift Musonda reveals the only thing he has picked up from media messages is that his television set will be dysfunctional once the move is effective.
 
“No one has approached us in the communities to sensitise, educate or explain to us what this really means and the exact benefits to the citizens. They should have done it in local languages so that even those who do not understand English understand,” he laments.
 
Mr. Musonda says government needs to communicate the information adequately to the people because they are the ones to suffer the consequences.
 
“In fact it is in government’s own interest to show real commitment towards the completion of this important process in order to move with the changing technology in the world. We do not want our country to be left out in the developments that Africa and the world at large is undergoing. Government has to realise the importance of sensitizing the public,” he adds.
 
And Livingstone Business man, Douglas Hankambe says the government should consider sending people around communities with sufficient information about digital migration to fully sensitise the public.
 
“I believe this move comes with expenses from both the government and the general public. People need this information regardless of what ever challenges may come along,” he states.
 
Mr. Hankambe says there has been so many speculations that digital migration would render all analogue television sets useless hence there is urgent need to clarify such rumours.
 

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