In Summary
  • That was revealed by TCRA lawyer Philip Filikunjombe during a seminar to editors in the city yesterday.

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania Communications Regulations Authority (TCRA) has played down threat by some pay TV operators who are obliged to provide free-to-air (FTA) stations that they will remove channels from their decoders due to the later’s failure to settle service fees.

That was revealed by TCRA lawyer Philip Filikunjombe during a seminar to editors in the city yesterday.

Dr Filikunjombe said those who wish to remove FTA from their decoders should abide by the country’s laws and regulations.

The companies, which have contract to air FTA channels are Ting, Star Media, Digitec and Continental.

In August, the companies told reporters that they were planning to switch off the FTA after the owners of 34 stations, who are registered under their services, failed to pay the fees for the past eight years.

Their statement came days after TCRA threatened to cancel licences for some pay TV companies, which charged customers to access local channels.

According to Dr Vernon Fernandes, the owner of Ting, every TV station which uses their services is supposed to pay Sh2.4 million per month in each region that they transmit their services but they haven’t done so since 2010.

But speaking to editors at the authority’s headquarters, Dr Filikunjombe said digital terrestrial television (DTT) service providers are free to remove FTA channels from their list provided that they are abiding by the law in doing so.

“As per their contract some of DTT are obliged to air the FTA stations but if they want to change that we wouldn’t stop them. However, they must adhere to the regulations by seeking licences which will allow them to do so,” said Dr Filikunjombe.

Speaking during the seminar TCRA director general James Kilaba urged Direct To Home (DTH) providers, which aren’t allowed to air FTA, to apply for new licences, which will allow them to do so.

“We are doing all these for the interest of the country; if a company want to air FTA it should make sure it has a licence, which permit it to do because there’s no limit, when it comes to the number of DTT, ” said Mr Kilaba.

He elaborated that TCRA understands continuing to allow Pay TV providers, whose infrastructures are located outside the country, to air FTA, will deny Tanzanians access to information provided that they fail to settle monthly fees.

He added this will also weaken efforts to improve DTT infrastructures in the country as well as deny advertisers the right to reach many people.

He also reiterated that customers, who have subscribed to DTH services, to submit details to the authority.

“We have a case in court with the DTH providers, but we are calling on people to submit their details…but I don’t mean that we [TCRA] will compensate us but it will help us to know the way forward,” said Kilaba.

According to Mr Kilaba the saga between DTH operators and the government has been in court for the past three years.