A few minutes after midnight, on
Starting the 27th of December, 2013, all television broadcasting in
Analogue broadcasting can be seen more like raw broadcasting. The problem with this became evident as the signal space (spectrum/frequency) allocated for television broadcasting began to fill up. As an example,
A new TV station has to replace or buy an existing one.
Another solution here was to use cable broadcasting, but most parts of the world do not rely on cable fro dominant broadcasting.
For broadcasting over the air, a solution to the channel limitation was to broadcast television channels digitally. Digital television broadcasting carries more than one channel on the same frequency, compared to analogue broadcasting which would only carry a single channel. Digital television broadcasting takes the transmitted channel, modifies it electronically, before packing and broadcasting it.
As an example on the difference between the two, the
Before 1990, digital broadcasting was expensive and difficult to do to homes. In 1991, a group of broadcasters came together to work on a feasible way to digitally broadcast to the home. This led to the development of digital broadcasting technology and standards, currently in the process of being rolled out globally.
Satellite broadcasting has however for long been on digital broadcasting, with DStv broadcasting digitally since 1996, which explains why you have many TV stations on satellite. It also explains why you need a box to decode a DStv signal (you also need a decoding box due to the fact that it is scrambled (mixed up) to avoid non paying viewers from receiving the signal).
In 2006, a meeting of the
Television broadcasting of signals has no borders, and this has to be coordinated to ensure that there is no interference when some countries switchover to digital broadcasting. Such standardisation also ensures affordability of technology such as set top boxes and digital broadcasting equipment and sets.
In contrast to analogue TV broadcasting where each television broadcasting station sets its own broadcasting equipment and broadcasts its own signal, digital television broadcasting in most countries in
This means that digital TV broadcasting separates the broadcasting of content from transmission of the signal. This helps in achieving efficient use of spectrum, which with increasing communication needs, has become more sought.
Among the benefits of digital TV broadcasting is that it releases extra spectrum, which in our region (
The launch of digital television broadcasting by then President Kibaki was welcomed by major private TV broadcasters in the country, with all declaring that they were ready to go digital.
A change of tone:
The tone from the private broadcasters was later to change when they realised that unlike in analogue broadcasting, there would only be a few licensed signal carriers for digital TV broadcasting.
The launch of StarTimes, a digital TV pay channel was attended by a cross section of Kenya TV industry moguls. Then, relations with the government were still on the better side. Local media firms had been promised a 3rd license for signal distribution after they had lost to
The government itself did flip flop channels, switching from a promise to offer a 3rd license based on affirmative action (to be issued to a 'Kenyan' firm only), to promising to off load shares in the 1st signal distributor - government owned Signet.
Over time, privately owned TV stations in
StarTimes became one of 2 digital pay TV content providers in
StarTimes carries its signal on
Signet, the first licensee also has
The Chinese Connection:
While there has been no evidence to prove it, StarTimes has been linked to
StarTimes has its roots in the
StarTimes also bought South African satellite TV operator, TopTV, and is rumoured to be gearing for a continent wide expansion as a satellite operator to rival DStv (again, no confirmation on this). If true, in
The elusive third license:
While the government had promised a 3rd license to a local firm, the
Local media tantrums:
Royal Media (Citizen TV),
This saw the media houses try to scuttle the digital migration process through a number of lawsuits. Additionally, the media houses failed to air publicity material from the
The main issue of contention (the so called 'bone to pick') here has been the lose of control on signal broadcasting by the media houses. The switch from analogue to digital broadcasting brings in a high number('plethora') of new entrants to an industry that before had a high barrier to entry. All one needs now is revenue of KSh. 200,000 to KSh. 500,000 a month to own a TV station, far below the cost of a Toyota Probox, a vehicle common across
The many new entrants put our traditional media houses at risk. With a choice of 30 to 60 TV stations, there are many new stations that advertisers - the chief source of revenue for 'free TV' - will have to spread their budget.
The incumbents - current media stations - will have to work really hard to keep their viewers and stature. This, is something you clearly would not want if you were in their position.
The lost issues - freedom, cost:
The incumbents, from their narrow sightedness and choosing to pick a fight on a ship that had already sailed, lost the bigger picture.
Issues that needed addressing include the fact that the 2 signal distributors are either a government entity, or owned by a foreign entity that can easily be controlled by government (The Chinese are notorious for their government friendliness). This means, if the government were unhappy with what is being aired, or what a certain station is airing, it may have control on whether the content will be received on your TV set, or not.
Think of this in times of elections, or times such as the post election-violence of 1998. The current government has already set the pace by signing into law a repressive media bill. Hopefully, the courts will be just in case of unjust government interventions on broadcasting.
Issue number two is that of affordability of set top boxes. Set top boxes are currently retailing at upwards of KSh. 3,000, in a country where the gross national income is at KSh. 6,145 , far below minimum income of KSh. 8,000. The price may go up in the short term due to demand arising from bungling of the awareness and transition period (by key media outlets), which may see pricing at KSh. 5,000 upwards.
Local media may have lobbied for government subsidies on set top boxes as was done in
Thirdly, there is also the question of how StarTimes has managed to establish such a media presence across
Sadly, all these issues were drowned in the quest of self preservation by local media.
What digital migration means to you, the viewer:
Digital TV broadcasting means that current TV viewers will either have to get a new TV set with digital TV integration or a set top box. The set top box decodes digitally transmitted TV signals for current TV sets and allows them to receive digital TV the same way they would hook up a video cassette player or DVD player.
Current digitally integrated TV sets are costly and out of the reach for many. While the quality of TV channels received goes up (depending on technology, there might be super clear high definition (HD) channels licensed in the future or currently, in addition to current standard definition(SD) which is also good), there are a few disadvantages to note.
Decoders in the market also offer the advantage of being able to record TV to USB, or play movies from USB, or also watch pay TV stations like GOtv or StarTimes without change of equipment ( this functionality depends on your decoder)
Disadvantage number 1 is the cost of the set top box. Number 2 is that you may need a new, better aerial. Digital TV, unlike analogue TV, is either there, or not - it doesn't gradually improve until you get a clear signal, you either get a clear signal, or none. This means that tuning your old aerial becomes harder.
Switching channels will also become slower for viewers, as it takes time for the signals to be decoded unlike raw analogue signals. Additionally, depending on the quality of your decoder, rain and other conditions (a motorcycle passing by)may affect your reception.
Lastly, not all areas will be covered. Analogue TV signals, even though they never reached all of
The advantages however outnumber the disadvantages.
Happy switching from the team at CIO!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_terrestrial_televisionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_televisionhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Telecommunication_Union Related stories
CCK reviews prices for broadcasting frequencies
CCK caught in surprise Cabinet Secretary directive to issue 3rd digital TV signal licence
100 percent digital migration achievable only with satellite
Most Popular Stories
- Obama Administration Releases Proposal to Regulate For-Profit Colleges
- Some California Cities Seeking Water Independence
- Apple, HP, Intel May Take a Hit from Slowdown in Smartphone Sales Growth
- Chinese e-Commerce Giant Alibaba Gears for IPO in U.S.
- FDIC Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Banks Allegedly Hurt by Libor Scandal
- Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx Marries Model Courtney Bingham
- Will Missing Malaysian Jet Prompt Aviation System Change?
- SoCalGas Reaches Record Spend on Diversity Suppliers
- Keurig Adds Peet's coffee, Alters Starbucks deal
- Obama Seeks to Stay Neutral in CIA-Senate Conflict