Malawi misses digital migration deadline for SADC countries

Malawi government authorities are indicating that the country will fail to meet the December 31, 2013 digital switchover deadline set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Digital migration is the process of transition from analogue to Digital broadcasting to ensure improved television service reception in terms of coverage and quality of both picture and sound.

Reasons for Malawi’s failure points at a slow pace towards the effort following  ‘irregularities’ in equipment procurement process  – a concern previously raised in parliament by a member of Parliamentary Committee on Media, Jolly Kalero.

Government has contracted Huawei Technologies, a Chinese company to steer Malawi’s switch over to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) by November this year.

 Mpinganjira : Misses
Mpinganjira : Misses

Confirming the failure to meet the switchover deadline, Malawi’s Information Minister Brown Mpinganjira says the country has nothing to lose because there is still two more years to come before the 2013 deadline set by the International Communications Union (ITU) in 2006.

“We have a committee that is working tirelessly to ensure that this happens. But it should not create panic to viewers because for two years the viewers will still have the choice to watch analogue digital until 2015. So Malawians have two year to buy necessary equipment to switch from analogue to digital,” Mpinganjira says.

Malawi will be second country in the SADC country to fail to meet the digital switchover deadline after Zambia also announced the same in October following cancellation of the $220 million DTT supply tender awarded to Star Times due to ‘irregularities’ in the contact award process.

Digital broadcasting transition is a global process, which started in 2006 following an agreement by ITU member states to switch from analogue to digital broadcasting signals.

ITU member states in 2006 agreed to the switchover deadline of June 17, 2015.

The Southern African region, one of the front-runners on the continent in the race to make the transition to digital broadcasting, started the process in June 2009 and set December 31, 2013, as the deadline for the switchover to give the region time to address any challenges that may result from the migration prior to the ITU 2015 deadline.

Any country failing to meet the 2105 global deadline risks of paying the painful penalty of being isolated from the world’s broadcasting community.

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