Saturday, August 03, 2013

Curious FM Switch Off in Kampala

BBC Monitoring tipped me on this story on the Ugandan Daily Monitor website.

Kololo Summit, the highest point in Kampala
As part of preparations to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) has announced a three days switch off of the free-to-air television services.
Starting  tomorrow (August 4th),  64 broadcasting stations including television and some FM radio stations renting from the Kololo Summit View mast and operating on a terrestrial television free to air platform will be off air. In a new release yesterday, Ms Rose Namayanja, the information and national guidance minister, said government would stick to the three days to mitigate impact of the process.
“UBC has put in place a contingency arrangement to ensure uninterrupted provision of television and radio services beyond the greater Kampala areas in Uganda,” she said.
She stated that television services on the satellite platform would not be interrupted during the period of installation of digital terrestrial television antennas.
The digital migration exercise is a fulfilment of a July 2006 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) resolution (to which Uganda is signatory) and requires all countries to have shifted all their television broadcasting signals from Analogue to Digital by June 2015. Further to this, in Uganda, the policy on Analogue to Digital migration was approved by Cabinet in April 2011, providing for UBC as the sole signal distributor for at least five years.
Comment from Jonathan: I guess the FM transmitters are off the air while they work on the mast and there are no plans to suddenly force radio listeners to adopt DAB in the same way that TV is going digital. But I am surprised that they didn't put up a temporary FM mast since listeners don't listen to satellite for their radio coverage. And this is probably the most strategically important transmitter site in Uganda. I also note with interest that digital terrestrial broadcasting is back in the hands of a government monopoly in Uganda. Not sure I understand the reasons for that. If I lived in that part of East Africa, it would be an excellent excuse for me to invest in a satellite receiver and share the signal with neighbours. Didn't realise that this transmitter site had so much history attached to it - or that Kampala had such beautiful vistas.
The view from the transmitter site. One of the best in Kampala

Kololo Hill is the highest hill in Kampala, Uganda’s largest capital centre. With a history dating back in 1912, Kololo got its name from Rwoti Awich, a paramount chief of payiira ethinic group from the Acholi region of Uganda. The Acholi people fought British colonialism in 1926, and many Acholi tribal leaders like Rwot Awich (Payira) Rwot Ogwok (Padibe) and Rwot Olyaa (Atiak) took part in the fight against British rule.

Kololo hill lies just five minutes drive from the centre of Kampala, and this steep hill is bordered by other prominent hills & town in Kampala like Naguru hill to the east, Bukoto trading centre and the Mulago hill to the northwest.

Kololo Hill - the Google Earth view

Due to its central location in the city and the breathtaking views the spot commands, Kololo hill has been an expensive residential area for years. The hill is dominated by embassies and Ambassadors' residences in Uganda, hotels, banks, hospitals, and supermarkets. Television & Telecommunication companies also operate several telecommunication masts at the peak of Kololo hill. 

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