Govt warns multiplex operators over free channels

DEPUTY Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Eng Atashasta Nditiye

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DEPUTY Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Eng Atashasta Nditiye (pictured) has directed all multiplex operators to offer five free to air television stations or face the wrath of the law.

At the same time, he said, all simcard registration kiosks, which do not observe the rules and requirements should be removed from roadsides. He gave the directive in Dar es Salaam yesterday shortly after visiting the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) offices for a familiarisation tour.

He said that they had conducted a cost benefit study whose findings were released in March, this year, in a bid to clear challenges on what should be paid as transmission charges.

“There have been complaints over the five free to air channels, which whoever with multiplex decoders be it Startimes, Ting, Digitek or Continental, should access them, whether the gadget is paid up or not,” he insisted.

He directed TCRA to take the needed action against the offenders as the government realised the importance for the public to get the needed information. Reacting, TCRA Director General, James Kilaba said they would enforce the laws and regulations as it is clear under the Digital and Other Broadcasting Network Regulations that the free to air channels should be availed to the public.

“It is true that the five free to air channels have to be offered by multiplex operators with an exception of the subscription operators, there have been post digital challenges which have been addressed to make sure all parties are settled,” said Eng Kilaba.

The five channels are TBC, ITV, Star TV, Channel Ten and TV1. Briefing the Deputy Minister, Principal Broadcast Engineer Andrew Kisaka said there have been a number of post digital challenges.

He gave an example of a wrangle between the multiplex operators which are BTL, Star Media and Agape over charges they offer to broadcasters. “The broadcasters were saying the fees for transmission are too high for them to handle, as some stations feel that their content are prime, thus we had to conduct a cost study,” he said.

Adding that, “They also claimed that revenue generation is through advertising whereas of late most of the advertisers route their product through online streams, thus, the need for the study.”

He said they were now reviewing the licensing regulations so that they fit with the digital era as well as regulation to be established to adjust the intra-operability of decoders.

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