An assessement of the levels of access to Digital Terrestrial Television(DTT)among low-income TV owning households in Kalingalinga township in Lusaka

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Ilinanga, Conceptor
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The University of Zambia
This study was conducted to assess the levels of access to digital terrestrial television (DTT) among low-income television owning households that rely on terrestrial platform for television access in Kalingalinga Township in Lusaka, Zambia. The digital transition in broadcasting is a global requirement involving the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting signals and a number of countries have completed this transition.Even though the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations global telecommunications body, set 17 June, 2015 as the deadline for digital migration, yet the Zambian government only managed to implement a simulcast along the line of rail from Chililabombwe to Livingstoneduring the period of this study. The reason for migrating from analogue to digital TV was necessitated by the fact that analogue requires a lot of bandwidth frequency to transmit one channel. Instead digital broadcasting offers better utilisation of frequencies, better picture quality and clear sound. Looking at these advantages, migration from analogue to digital broadcasting is inevitable. In order to get digital transmissions, citizens would either have to buy a set top box or a digital television. A set-top-box is a decoder that enables the digital signal to be viewed on an analogue television set.Currently digitally integrated TV sets are costly (which can be upwards of US$300 at the lower end) and out of the reach for many. Hence, one of the critical success factors identified by the European Union was the ―low cost and widely available‖ set top boxes. The objectives of the study were: to find out the level of awareness on digital migration; to investigate whether the set top boxes were readily available; to find out if the set top boxes were affordable among low-income TV owning households and to establish the intervention measures which have been put in place by the Zambian government to enable accessibility to set top boxes among low-income TV owning households. Descriptive and exploratory research designs were used to conduct this study. In order to achieve the research objectives, both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used and both primary and secondary data collection methods were used in carrying out this research. The population interviewed was classified into three target groups according to the method of data collection used: Target group one: questionnairesadministered to 100 respondents of Zone 10 in Kalingalinga Township; Target group two: In-depth interviews to 4 people; Target group three: 10 Focus Group Discussions (FGD). Sampling methods were multi-staged: purposive, and systematic to select households. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics; this was presented in form of tables - cross tabulations, frequencies and percentages. The study found that most respondents (80%) were aware of the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television and also knew the benefits that digital technology has over analogue technology. Their source of information was mostly television. Despite most respondents being aware about digital migration and its benefits, none of the respondents had bought a set top box and only 30% of the respondents understood what a set top box was. Half of the respondents felt that the cost (K200) of set top boxes was high-priced and 50% of the respondents wanted government to provide a payment plan. However, a policy maker vi from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services stated that government had not put any payment plan in place to help low-income households to afford set top boxes. In essence, this research concludes that low-income television owning households who rely on terrestrial platform for television accessmight not afford to buy set top boxes at K200 without government offering an alternative solution and this might lead to low uptake of digital terrestrial television (DTT). The researcher recommended that sincedigital migration has been forced on people and majority of the households who most need the benefits of DTT cannot afford to pay for set top boxes, it is important that government through TopStar, introduces a ―pay slow system‖, so that even low-income households might afford STBs. Furthermore, TopStar, the official distributor of STBs, is not found in rural areas there is need to expand and go to rural areas where they can be accessed or bring private retailers on board to get involved in selling STBs.
Digital television--Low income households--Zambia