• Friday, June 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

StarTimes Proffers Solutions to crossing Digital Migration hurdles

StarTimes

There are lots of homes in Nigeria that have Television sets but not many of them are compliant to digital migration.

Lack of technology-intensive system, uncertain power supply, a simple lack of money and complex systematic social project have locked several homes out of the global village called Digital broadcast.

The President, StarTimes Group,  Pang Xinxing, wants to change all of that with a simplified, robust and affordable pay TV aimed at emerging market across Africa. Xinxing said in a statement that he had designed a model, which he tagged ‘Advance Hand-in-Hand to Jointly Create the Future,’ to realise Digitalization of Broadcasting & TV in Africa.

While presenting his speech at the just concluded World conference tagged ‘Agenda for the 6th African Digital Development Seminar, hosted by StarTimes in Beijing, China, he disclosed that his company is set  to partner and encourage African member states of International Telecommunication Union to meet the Year 2020 deadline given by the world body to realise broadcasting and TV digitalization.

To him, the adoption of Private Public Partnership model is the solution to crossing all hurdles before the initiative. On the part of StarTimes, he disclosed that it is set to roll out several packages to ease the compliance of African nations, especially Nigeria.

“Our corporate responsibility program is aimed at subsidizing our STB and providing each family who has TV set with an offer of $10. We will also provide basic program package of more than 30 channels at $3 monthly fee with free STBs for government-designated households; providing digital TV programs of national TV station for free to achieve universal digital television service.”

 “StarTimes will establish a Joint Venture with local partners designated by the government and fulfil the mission of ‘enabling every African family to have access to, afford and watch good digital TV and enjoy the beauty of digital TV,” he said.

The StarTimes boss was quick to add that African governments also have roles to play in the PPP initiative. Establishing a brand new digital TV industry by attracting investment, technology, management, talents and training resources, to him, is governments’ responsibilities.

“Realising nationwide digitalization, flourishing broadcasting, creating job opportunities, improving the national quality and creating a more friendly business environment is the function of strong partnership among governments and business owners across the world,” he said.

For the national TV stations across the continent,  Xinxing charged them to realise digitalization of shooting, recording, editing and enhancing program-making capability and quality if they are determined to cross the hurdle. That is not all. Using the existing structure across board, he believes national broadcasters can have shares in the JV Company as they can efficiently use their assets and have dividends from the JV.

“The two days seminar had provided an important platform for delegates from various countries to share their experiences and suggestions on the promotion of digital migration in Africa. I believe the outcomes of this event will definitely contribute to the advancement of digital broadcasting for our continent. The next step is to think how to implement those suggestions brought up at the seminar. I am optimistic that President of Guinea, Alpha Condé would fully pay attention on those suggestions,” said chairman, High Communication Commission of Guinea, Ms. Martine Conde.

The Councillor of the Information Department at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Zhao Shiren, stated that China-Africa relationship has reached a new dimension as helping in the transition from analogue to digital will further boost their cooperation.

He disclosed that Africa lacks the infrastructure, human resources capacity, information society building, security, TV migration that are all useful for any nations development, but with the support of Star Times, which is now seen as carrying China’s public diplomacy, that will be a thing of the past.

At the end of the opening session, some African nations did not only saw the need to catch the vision but also made their decisions formal in black and white. The management of Star Times Group, it said signed 3 agreements with elated representatives of Ghana, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia for the launch of StarTimes satellite Television in their countries.

Commenting on the development, Public Relations Manager, StarTimes, NTA Star-TV Network,  Israel Bolaji, stressed the point that digital TV is for all; and as such, it should be affordable to all Nigerians. He further added that, “the increase in the quality of both the decoder and the channels are incomparable. It was done in a bid to continue to satisfy Nigerians. We are working hard and smart to prepare Nigerians towards digital migration by offering our customers affordable bundle that makes a convenient switch over from analogue to digital television and promote inspirational television experience that creates values,” he said

In 2011, StarTimes hosted the 1st African Digital TV Development Forum, the presence of important guests, inspiring themes forward looking ideas and win-win models for cooperation, made the forum a much-discussed phenomenon in Africa’s television industry.

With over 300 delegates including ministers of broadcasting & TV administrations, heads of national TV stations from 39 African countries, the laudable event was no doubt a success. The conference was organized and funded by StarTimes to provide opportunities for African delegates to consult on financing issues in digital migration.

Also, leaders of financial institutions like Export-Import Bank of China, China-Africa Development Fund and China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation were also invited to the conference to encourage them to see diverse investment opportunities buried in the industry across Africa.

It could be recalled that according to the 2006 agreement between Africa and the ITU, Africa was supposed to complete the digital migration by June 2015, which means a higher clarity of TV programs with great quality of pictures, and more diversity in television content.

However, only five out of 54 African countries crossed the hurdle as they successfully migrated to digitalisation as most of the rest faced challenges around capital intensity and technology and some due to political unwillingness.

Digital Migration refers to the shift from analogue broadcasting to digital broadcasting and that involves many changes of the transmission signals as well as making sure that members of the public are able to enjoy very high quality definition television.

With a global vision, Star Times began to expand its operational business to Africa in 2002 working closely with African Governments to jointly promote digitalization and information.

So far, Star Times has established subsidiaries in 30 African countries. They are Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, Guinea, Congo-Kinshasa among others where it had already started operations.

“With about 8 million subscribers, StarTimes Group has grown to be the fastest growing and the most influential digital TV operator in Africa as we seek harmony and win-win outcomes and regard fulfilment of social responsibility as its obligation,” the StarTimes boss added.

Daniel Obi