Uganda’s local pay television operators have expressed disappointment over the manner in which public awareness on digital migration, spearheaded by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), is being conducted.
A number of the pay TV operators operating in the country have said that the current outreach methods the UCC applies are not effective in spreading information on the importance of digital migration to a significant section of the Ugandan population.
The StarTimes country sales manager Simon Arineitwe said the UCC has instead centred on spreading information on billboards, which merely inform the analogue TV owners to get ready for the digital migration, leaving them unaware of what the process fully entails.
Speaking on the sidelines of StarTimes Christmas promotion, Arineitwe said: “The role of the UCC and the Ministry of Information Communication Technology is to take the message out to the public. We as vendors want to sell the digital equipment but we cannot do so if the population is not fully sensitized as to why they should purchase.
“We appreciate UCC has tried to spread information about digital migration, but its concentration on billboards cannot do much in sending information across, avenues like regular programs on electronic media and road shows to enable public learn through listening and seeing.”
Arineitwe explained that as much as companies make efforts to ensure pay television remains affordable, lack of information on digital broadcasting poses a major challenge.
“We have been doing an internal survey in our clientele, but only two out every ten customers had a shallow knowledge about the migration, yet they are the consumers who must learn and appreciate the relevancy of that new technological advancement,” he said.
UCC’s head of corporate communications Fred Otunu acknowledged that gaps in public awareness exist, adding that the commission was fully aware and is in the process of rolling out a mass media campaign on digital migration.
He further expressed optimism that by the end of the first quarter of 2013 millions of people would have been informed on the technology.
“We are currently selecting print and electronic media houses to partner with so that we run regular programs and this will be coupled with experiential outreach activities to demonstrate the technology for public,” he was quoted as saying by the New Vision.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), digital migration is obligatory and requires all countries worldwide to have migrated from analogue to digital broadcasting by June 2015.
Digital television enables broadcasters to deliver more channels with clearer sounds and images per frequency. For instance, a single frequency can increase the number of channels by nearly 40 percent.
At the launch of the Christmas promotion, StarTimes announced reduced decoder prices from around USh60,000 ($23) to USh50,000 ($19). The promotion further offers a free month of subscription, after paying a three-month subscription in advance.
StarTimes recently faced wide criticism after allegations that it sold “wrong” decoders at reduced rates to unsuspecting customers. According to Arineitwe however, most of the pay TV operator’s revenue is generated from subscriptions and reducing the price of the decoders is a way of attracting more subscribers.
Multichoice Uganda also recently unveiled its Christmas package that saw reductions in subscription and hardware prices, including a 10 percent discount to subscribers who make payments before the expiry of their subscription.