Malawi will fully migrate from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting on September 30 this year, Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa has said.
Speaking in an interview on Tuesday, Nankhumwa said Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) held a meeting with broadcasters where they set the final date to completely switch off the analogue signal.
He said government failed to completely switch over on the June 17 deadline as some broadcasters panicked two weeks before the date and asked for consideration.
Nankhumwa said in the meantime, broadcasters who are ready will be switching over to digital broadcasting even before the September 30 deadline.
Said the minister: “When we [Malawi] symbolically switched off [analogue] in Mzuzu on June 17, the next step is to allow broadcasters in conjunction with Macra to switch off on their own. We do not want to impose.”
This development comes amid the availability of analogue television antennas on the market which Nankhumwa is on record as having said their importation and selling will be banned.
The minister said Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) and Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) will be expected to enforce the law on banning the importation of analogue television accessories.
But Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito observed that lack of awareness on digital migration has created confusion among consumers who are still buying the analogue television accessories.
In an interview, he said government has not put in much emphasis on banning the importation of the accessories, among them analogue television antennas, which is giving consumers a raw deal as they will be phased out next month.
Kapito said government has completely stopped marketing the digital set-top boxes which are now selling at K15 000 down from K20 000 in post offices nationwide.
Countries worldwide are migrating from analogue to digital terrestrial television broadcasting following a resolution of the International telecommunications Union(ITU) that member States should migrate by June 17, 2015 of which Malawi failed to completely switch over as only Mzuzu City migrated.