We’re on track to meet digital migration deadline – Katema

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MINISTER of Information and Broadcasting Services Joseph Katema says Zambia is on course to meet the June 2015 deadline of switching from analogue to digital television broadcasting, which is an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) requirement.

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Dr Katema said in Ndola yesterday that Government has also embarked on a countrywide sensitisation campaign on what digital broadcasting migration is all about.
“The process to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting is firmly underway,” the minister said during the launch of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) dual is transmitter at Kaloko Hill in Ndola.
“As you may be aware, Government a few weeks ago signed a US$9million contract with Star Software Technology Company of China for phase one of the project.”
The transmitter, to broadcast both in analogue and digital and also improve the television reception in Ndola, was installed at a cost of K4.5 million.
Dr Katema said the installation of the transmitter is in line with Government’s commitment to ensuring public access to information, a fundamental pre-requisite for deepening democracy and development.
“The new television transmitter launched yesterday is a dual-cast, meaning the transmitter has both analogue and digital transmission facilities. This is not a mere coincidence,” he said.
“It is a deliberate and significant step in Zambia’s migration process from analogue to digital broadcasting as prescribed by the ITU, which has set June 2015 as the deadline for countries worldwide,” he said.
Dr Katema said installation of the transmitter is a great milestone in ZNBC’s on-going efforts to provide quality television services to the people of the Copperbelt and the country as a whole.
Other transmitters will be launched in Kitwe today and Chingola tomorrow.
Dr Katema said Government is also undertaking various projects to enhance the free flow and public access to information and highlighted the issuance of licences to commercial radio and television stations, which have reached 60.
In line with President Sata’s directive of having provincial studios, Dr Katema said Government is setting up provincial broadcast studios with phase one earmarked for Solwezi and Choma and contracts for the construction of the facilities expected to be signed this month.
And ZNBC board chairman John Mulwila said the replacement of the transmitter was necessitated by the corporation’s challenges, with efficiency of the previous transmitter drastically reduced due to lack of spares and the general degradation of the electronic parameters.
“In a continued effort to improve radio and television coverage in the country, the corporation embarked on a project to instal television services in Ndola in 2011,” he said.
Dr Mulwila said to this effect, a 38-meter tower was erected at Kaloko Hill to provide medium power transmission for television but the services could not be operational because the ZNBC transmitter was interfering with the Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) communication system.
And as the five power transmission services along the line of rail were underperforming, the corporation sought financial intervention from Government to help resolve the problem of poor reception on the Copperbelt.
“Indeed Government heard the concern and provided funds amounting to K4.5 million to instal a television transmitter in Kitwe,” he said.
Dr Mulwila said the installation is a milestone as it is the first time the corporation is doing so since 1964.

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