Kampala. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has said the current price war among pay-TV companies has been caused by new players in the decoder importation business.
Currently, most pay-TV companies have cut their decoder prices in what is assumed to be a stock clearing move.
In an interview last week, Mr Fred Otunnu, the UCC corporate communications manager, said government has opened up the decoder importation market because it is not planning to import set top boxes (decoders), but it has created mechanisms for the private sector to import the decoders and compete with other pay-TV service providers.
“Government divested Uganda Broadcasting Corporation and created a new company, Signet, to distribute signals to level the ground for the pay-TV market,” he said, adding that currently, decoders which carry all the free-to-air channels are available in the open market at Shs150, 000.
According to Mr Umar Lwasa Namansa, the chairperson Uganda Pay TV Association, most of the pay-TV companies operating in Uganda have been taking advantage of the ignorance of Ugandans to charge them monthly subscription fees because most of the channels they claim to pay for, are available through satellite but just require decoders which can pick the signals from the satellite.
“You do not need to pay monthly subscription fees. We have been asking these people to bring decoders installed with Wi-Fi, but they are hesitant,” he said.
He said with such decoders, there would be no need to buy internet bundles from mobile phone companies, adding that even a country such as Sudan, uses such technology and the audiences are not paying monthly subscription fees.
Uganda’s pay television is highly lean, to the extent that the three million television set owners, are still on analogue.
Digital migration to reduce pays TV charges
Local pay television firms predict that the upcoming switch off of analogue transmission will culminate in overwhelming growth of business because of the anticipated increased uptake of set top boxes (decoders), given that the devices will be required to receive signals.
Dealers are also optimistic that the wide clientele base as a result of digital migration will lead to reduced charges because the sales for both decoders and subscription will be higher to the extent that even a small profit margin on huge sales will make a positive impact on business.
According to Mr Aldrine Nsubuga, the marketing director StarTimes Digital pay television, it is estimated that at least 50 per cent of the current three million Ugandans owning television sets will be able to acquire decoders within one year after the analogue switch off.