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StarTimes to roll out free digital TV across parts of rural Africa

StarTimes-logoChinese pay TV outfit StarTimes is to make free-to-air digital TV available across parts of rural Africa.

StarTimes Media Kenya’s director of brand marketing and public relations Japheth Akhulia told the Xinhua news agency that the group project would see about 10,000 villages given access to free digital TV.

StarTimes has already conducted a pilot project in Kajiado in south-western Kenya.

Akhulia told the news agency that digital switchover had left many villages without access to TV as they had not been able to afford the necessary equipment to receive digital TV signals.

He said that StarTimes was in talks with government officials in multiple countries and that the project would be deployed in areas where the company receives government approval.

Kenya was an early African switchover country, completing the process two years ago in a process that was not trouble-free. Commercial broadcasters engaged in a long-running dispute with the government over the latter’s decision to push ahead with the process despite a lack of available set-top boxes.

The majority of African countries missed the 2015 switchover deadline set by the EBU.

South Africa is now moving towards switchover despite an ongoing, long-running and bitter dispute between broadcasters and the government over whether set-top boxes should enable signals to be encrypted.

Nigeria, the continent’s other big economic power, tapped UK technology outfit Inview Networks to deploy boxes equipped with conditional access in order to be able to collect licence fees from users as part of the process.

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