By Andante Okanya
Digital satellite television service provider, MOTV Africa Limited, is demanding sh14.6b compensation from the regulator of broadcasting and communication services, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for financial loss over outdated decoders.
MOTV Africa dragged UCC to the Commercial Court accusing it of dishonesty. It contends that it pioneered digital terrestrial broadcasting in Uganda, and introduced DVT-B standard, after getting certification from the Government to embark on the project.
The UCC, according to the complainant, changed the technology to DVT-B2 standard without consulting stakeholders on the implications of the move.
The case was filed in court by Byenkya, Kihika and Company Advocates on February 12. MOTV Africa says the unilateral decision by UCC to change the technology from DVT-B to DVT-B2 was contrary to the declared government policy and consequently unlawful, null and void.
MOTV Africa complained that the change in technology made its technology obsolete and irrelevant to consumers.
The particulars of damages amounting to sh14b include loss of capital equipment, pre-operating expenses, operational expenses and projected profits, the digital TV company said.
July 2011 had been set as a switch-on date for digital television services and December 2012 as a switch-off date for analogue TV broadcasting.
But the position for digital migration has since changed, with UCC setting December this year as the roll out of digital migration to replace analogue television transmission.
The implication is that analogue television transmitters will be shut down and only digital television signal will be accessible. The global deadline for digital migration is June next year.
Television set owners are expected to acquire compliant decoders to enable them access digital television services.
In its summary of evidence, MOTV claims it relied on Government policy when making its investment in the technology that has now been rendered obsolete by UCC’s actions. The regulator has not yet responded to the accusations. The hearing date of the case is also yet to be set.