Government to ban entry of TV sets without digital transmitters

Thursday September 6 2012

TV set without digital access are about two million in Uganda.

TV set without digital access are about two million in Uganda. PHOTO ABUBAKER LUBOWA. 

By Nicholas Kalungi

In a move to ensure faster digital migration, television sets that require set top boxes to transmit digital signals will by next year be banned from accessing the local market, Mr Nyombi Thembo, the state minister for Information and Communication Technology, has said.

“We are working with other government bodies to stop the importation of television sets that need set top boxes to transmit digital signals. Starting next year, only compatible TV sets with a digital tuner will be allowed on the market,” Mr Thembo said in an interview with Daily Monitor.

Need two million boxes
He added: “We only need two million set top boxes. These are for the about two million television sets that currently need set top boxes to access digital broadcasting migration. After this we will not require any more such devices to be imported.”

However, the move is likely to hurt businesses that have already imported or ordered for television sets with no digital tuners. Both Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) could not confirm how soon this would be implemented.

Eng Geofrey Mutabazi, the executive director UCC, asked for more time before he would give a comprehensive position on the matter. As of December 2011, Uganda had about five million TV sets of which close to three million are digital enabled.
This means that the remaining two million require set top boxes in order to transmit digital signals.

Facilitating the switch
While reading the 2012/13 budget, the government scrapped import duty on set top boxes from 25 per cent to 0 for a period of one year as a way of facilitating the switch to digital broadcasting.

This was in addition to the adoption of DVBT 2 technology as the standard for digital migration and plans to ban the sale of DVBT(1). Recently, Eng Patrick Mwesigwa, the director of Technology and Licensing at UCC, said DVBT2 had been approved because it allows the airing of more channels (up to 24) compared to DVBT that allows less than 16 channels.

However, since then, there has been little progress and DVBT(1) technology is still on the market even when it was abolished.