Daily Archives: September 12, 2011

What is Digital TV and Why It Is Good News For Africa

Analog TV
goodbye analog TV; so long. It is time to usher in a new era in the TV history.
The Kenyan government gave the broadcasters a 2012 deadline by when all their signals should be switched from analog to digital. The global deadline is 2015. Do not kid yourselves, we will eventually move to digital TV sooner rather than later. I know a lot of people did not understand what this meant, including myself. Today, I try to demystify this digital/smart TV thing. All local stations are currently airing analog signals, and to receive them we place aerials on the tallest tree (or building in urban areas). To receive digital signals, this can be done via cable or satellite, which is more reliable and achieves better picture quality.

For those of us who did some Physics in high school, you may understand that we have a limited frequency spectrum over which it is safe and possible to transmit electromagnetic waves. This frequency range can be VHF or UHF.. either way, there is a limit to the number of TV stations that can a TV can receive at one time. However, with digital signals, up to 15 TV channels can be carried over one carrier signal (let’s say frequency). The signal is then decoded and you can choose the channel.

Digital TV
Welcome to digital TV
If you are already using Zuku TV or DSTV, congratulations, you have an understanding of what digital TV is all about. Most TVs being sold are analog, so you will have to buy a decoder and receiver dish (for satellite) in order to receive the signals. Future TVs will have an inbuilt digital decoder. Currently, a DSTV decoder can only decode DSTV channels, a Zuku decoder only channels available on Zuku and so on.. However, pretty soon, I can bet on the Chinese manufacturing decoders that can deliver all possible channels available on satellites within range!

Here is a number of reasons why digital TV is good news for Africa:

Increased Coverage

There is a satellite company that received a license by the Communication Commission of Kenya to distribute digital signals. This is SES whose coverage they claim is over 99% of the world’s population. This means that even if you are in the remotest parts of the world (Africa), you have a 99% chance of receiving the signal. Of course, this will face the challenge of having signal but no electricity! I don’t know the stats, but I can be sure less than 50% of Africans have no access to reliable electricity.

Better Quality Signals, More Channels

With digital TV, we can have High Definition TV; high quality images video and sound. As I said earlier, many channels can be carried on a single signal without affecting quality so we will have access to so many channels that we didn’t have access to before.

More Local Content, Cheaper to be a Content Producer

With all those channels available, can we expect more local content? I surely hope so! I am so tired of seeing all those cheap, trashy, white-washed excuses for soap operas that NTV, Citizen TV, KTN, Kiss TV, K24 are airing. Aren’t you?

With CCK regulations, you can only have a license to be either a distributor or a content provider, not both. So current local stations will have to forgo their distributing or content producing licenses.

It should now be cheaper to apply for a license to be a content provider and start airing your own shows. You will however have to liaise with a digital signals distributor such as Zuku to host your signal.

Only about 10% of household in Africa have access to digital TV, hopefully the number can increase. This is according to SES.

I hope I have clarified what digital TV is all about. Hit me up with any questions you may have. I will give a better answer than: go to google.com, type JFGI and click on I’m Feeling Lucky :-)