NBC Exceeds SADC Digital Migration Target

The Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) population coverage with a digital television signal currently stands at 70 percent, which is slightly above the SADC target of 67 percent percent coverage by mid-June 2015.

Namibia is among the top four countries in southern Africa that have embarked on the Analogue Switch Off (ASO) exercise and to date more than 50 000 decoders have been acquired by NBC viewers at a subsidized prices.

Selected viewer categories such as pensioners, people living with disabilities and war veterans can acquire the digital devices at half the retail price.

The broadcaster has engaged a number of distributors for its decoders throughout the country to ensure that decoders are available in all areas where Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) reception is possible.

NBC has so far installed DTT transmitters at 28 of its 56 television transmitter sites, most of which have already been commissioned. The broadcaster recently completed its fourth phase of ASO in the country with the fifth phase to be completed end of this month. The main analogue transmitters have already been switched off, with 46.9 percent of the population now receiving only the digital signal. This figure will increase to 60.7 percent by July 2015 following the switch-off of more analogue transmitters.

“Progress has exceeded our best estimates and we are confident that the best is yet to come,” says a confident Director-General of the NBC Albertus Aochamub.

In most cases, the NBC operates the analogue and digital transmitters in parallel (dual illumination) for a certain period of time to give viewers ample time to purchase their new digital decoders. However, in a few cases a hard switch-over is necessary (meaning that the analogue transmitter is switched off on the day the DTT transmitter is switched on). This is the case where, for example, insufficient frequencies are available to operate both transmitters simultaneously), at solar sites where power is limited, or where the population is so small as not to warrant the cost of running two transmitters.

NBC currently has seven channels on its DTT bouquet with more channels to follow. At present, three channels are locally and internally produced by NBC inclusive of NBC1, NBC2 and NBC3, two channels are from local Namibian broadcasters, one is a locally owned and produced music channel named THISTV as well as one locally produced educational channel, EDUTV.

NBC publicity and marketing campaigns have been launched on the national broadcaster’s own media (radio, television and social media), as well as print media. Some of the challenges of broadcasting in Namibia include the fact that Namibia is a large country, thus requiring a large number of transmitters and it is also sparsely populated, resulting in a relatively high cost per viewer.

There are also high costs involved in local production for a relatively small audience compared to other countries.

NBC viewers are warming up to the digitalisation with several expressing excitement over the much-improved picture and sound quality.

Florence Kazondunge says although she faced initial technical challenges in the operation of the decoder, she is enjoying her new viewing experience. “The channels are now more and very educational. The picture is much clear and better than analogue,” she says.

Clangette Cloete has been enjoying digital television since she acquired her decoder in August last year. “There are more programmes for the kids and I can now also record programmes. Thank you very much NBC for the wonderful innovation,” she says.

Naftal Nakaleke is excited about the increased viewing choices that are being offered on the NBC decoder. “At first the decoder was giving me problems but I called NBC and they helped me to fix it. The decoder is nice, it’s clear and the channels are a lot,” he says.

Tally Elizabeth says those who have not yet acquired digital decoders don’t know what they are missing. “There is a lot of interesting stuff on the channels. I’m happy with my new decoder and the picture is absolutely clear. Those who don’t have it are missing out on a lot of stuff,” she says.

Source : New Era