Namibia Communiqu: SADC ministers discuss digital migration

digital_televisionAs the age of digital television dawns, southern African leaders will meet today, 22 November 2010, to hear the findings of a special task team appointed to show the way ahead. The meeting starts in Zambia, where broadcasting ministers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will receive feedback from the team appointed to investigate

According to a report by the Namibian newspaper on 22 November 2010, the future of digital television in southern Africa is at stake, and the standards that broadcasters will use to provide television to viewers across this part of the African continent.

It has been a troubled year for broadcasters so far, many of whom have invested in switching their analogue signals to the European-based Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial (DBV-T) standard for the past four years.

In 2006, SADC adopted the DBV-T standard, allowing countries to begin the migration to digital television in line with SADCs commitment to complete total migration by 2015.

At the time of the decision, DBV-T was seen as the logical standard to choose following its success in Europe, since mass manufacturing would make the set-top-boxes needed to receive the digital signal affordable.

At the start of this year, however, a determined group of Brazilian lobbyists descended on the region, pitching another digital standard, the Japanese Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T) standard.

Since then, governments have signalled that they might back the ISDB-T standard instead, causing havoc in countries and industries that have invested millions, some say close to N$1 billion, into the DBV-T standard over the past four years.

Several reports have speculated that the Japanese standard is receiving so much attention from governments because of promises of Japanese investment.

And yet, despite the alleged promises of investment, many say the real cost of switching to an untested digital standard could end up costing time and money, to the detriment of consumers and governments.

To clarify the confusion, SADC appointed a task team in November 2010 to investigate the standards. The task team also investigated the next-generation DBV standard, DBV-T2.

Mgqibelo Gasela, Head of Regulatory Affairs at MultiChoice Africa, a company that wholeheartedly backs DVB-T2, explained that in order for Africa to remain on top of the latest digital broadcasting developments, the DVB-T2 is the way of the future.

Gasela added that MultiChoice, which has been at the forefront of digital broadcasting in Africa, always wants to make sure Africa is best in the world and not just a dumping ground.

Many in the industry fear that the push to have the ISDB-T standard adopted in Africa, while it remains untested and unproven on the market, is an effort by the Brazilians and Japanese, the only two countries in the world that have adopted the standard, to find new markets.

Because of the substantially smaller ISDB-T market, decoders will be much more expensive.

Most agree that a sudden change of heart and a switch to ISDB-T can have major implications for the switch-over date and the quality of television broadcasts in Africa compared to elsewhere. (sources:

Post published in: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *