All African countries are required to switch from analogue to digital by June 17, 2015, but so far only Mauritius and Tanzania have completed the migration.
Discussed by delegates were the options of digital terrestrial television (DTT) and digital broadcast service (DTH) or satellite and the future of DTT.
The panel discussion looked into seizing the opportunity in the technical and regulatory space as the race to DTT intensifies.
Annemarie Meijer, account director at global satellite and terrestrial entertainment company Intelsat, advocated a shared satellite solution among the regional countries as the digital migration takes effect, saying it would extend the reach of local content as well as make it easier for broadcasters by sharing transponders.
The debate follows from the discussion at yesterday’s East African Communications Organization (EACO) conference in which broadcasting operators expressed concern at the state of the digital migration.
Meijer noted that sharing infrastructure would allow broadcasters to be available in a wider geographical space and thus a wider audience.
“All the East African countries need to do is identify a satellite that covers the entire region such as the 902, share the cost of the transponders with broadcasters teaming up to get 18mHz each and everyone has uplink to the same satellite,” she said.
She supported the integration or mixture of DTH and DTT during the migration, saying it would reduce the expenses of doing it with a single route with DTH to target mostly urban areas with higher economic power to afford satellite reception.
Meijer however, acknowledged that sharing satellite solutions could lead to regulatory problems and any arising issues would have to be dealt and agreed with among regulators such as sharing of advertising rights.
The issue of placing free to air channels on pay TV platforms also arose with the director of technical solutions at France 24, David Couret, saying regulators held the final say.
He added that governments and regulators should put in place measures to ensure pay TV platforms have their audiences receiving content for free even when disconnected as the transition takes place.