Mzuzu residents will start enjoying GOtv next month, national digital broadcasting coordinator Denis Chirwa has revealed.
GOtv, a Multichoice Africa budget digital terrestrial television package, extended broadcasting to Malawi in January 2013 with its signal presently accessible in Blantyre, Lilongwe and some surrounding districts.
The skewed signal map has left the multinational firm which deals in digital satellite TV services under fire for sidelining the North in preference for the Southern and Central regions.
Chirwa confirmed GOtv is going northwards at last during a digital migration regional awareness meeting organised by Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) last week Thursday.
“We have been informed that GOtv is launching in Mzuzu on April 11. If you buy a GOtv decoder, you will be able to find some local channels that are also available on Malawi Digital Broadcasting Network [MDBN] decoders available in post offices,” he said.
Chirwa is acting chief executive officer for MDBN, a firm which established to transmit content from all local TV stations when the country switches over to digital terrestrial television in compliance with an International Telecommunications Union (ITU) resolution of 2006 which requires all UN member states to shut down grainy analogue broadcasting by June 17 this year.
MultiChoice Malawi sales and marketing manager Chimwemwe Nyirenda could neither confirm nor deny the news which came Chirwa was senstising councillors, chiefs, information officers and district commisioners (DCs) to set top-boxes with a bouquet of 11 channels.
The channels include MBC, Zodiak and Times TV which are presently accessible in Mzuzu.
“Good timing,” Nyirenda said when asked. “We are preparing a press release and finalising the launch plans. I will send you first once done.” But none had come as we went to press.
Reacting to Chirwa’s announcement, Mzuzu Jombo Ward councillor Lusubilo Mwangonde asked Macra to stop issuing “nepotistic licences”, saying: “When networks are being licensed, they need to show the capacity to cover the whole country, not just Blantyre and Lilongwe.”
Macra deputy director of broadcasting Kelton Masangano, while confirming the GOtv switch-on, quashed suggestions of promoting the exclusion of the North. He reckons TV and radio stations are allowed to roll-out in phases because broadcasting is a capital intensive venture which cannot cover the whole country at once.
“TV infrastructure is costly and Macra cannot command the stations where to begin. They have to plant their infrastructure where it makes business sense. That is why GOtv started in Blantyre, then Lilongwe and now they have informed us Mzuzu is next in a few weeks,” said Masangano.