Migration to digital television broadcasting should be halted in regions which are still using analogue technology to enable more Tanzanians embrace the new technology, nominated MP James Mbatia has urged.
The MP, addressing a news conference in Dar es Salaam said that government should consider providing interest-free loans to owners of television stations to enable them acquire equipment for digital broadcasting.
“The decision to switch-off analogue broadcasting countywide denies citizens access to information and this is contrary to Article 18 (b) of the constitution,” Mr Mbatia, who is also NCCR-Mageuzi National Chairman said.
He said many people currently are unable to watch television as they cannot afford decoders and those who have acquired them are subjected to poor TV signals. Tanzania became the first country in the East African Community to start a gradual switch-off of analogue broadcasting.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set June 17, 2015 as the deadline for analogue broadcasting worldwide. EAC member states had earlier agreed to have their own deadline set at December 31, last year, to prepare the countries ahead of the ITU deadline but so far it is only Tanzania that has started the migration process.
Recently, television owners through the Media Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT) appealed to government to allow digital broadcasting to run parallel to analogue ahead of the ITU deadline.
Mr Mbatia said the migration to digital has had negative impacts for both operators of TV stations as well as the public, noting that the poor are the most hit. The MP called for massive public awareness of the new technology as well as provision of subsidies for purchase of decoders so that majority of Tanzanians will be able to acquire the devices.
He said the ongoing process to re-write the constitution is likely to be affected since wananchi will not be able to get information over television and thus be unable to participate.
By ALVAR MWAKYUSA, Tanzania Daily News