Digital TV coverage reaches 80 per cent

Digital T.V. penetration across Samoa has reached 80 per cent and all local stations are now part of the new platform, the Acting Regulator confirmed. 

Fesola'i Cecily Fa'asau told the Samoa Observer that the digital T.V. signal had reached 80 per cent of Samoan territory as of Friday afternoon.

A total of 25 districts are now covered. But the number of families who have switched over to digital T.V. is yet to be counted.

Earlier this year, T.V.1. pulled out of the digitized platform, joining T.V.3. as the only two stations to be excluded from the new platform, but both have since joined, Fesola'i confirmed. 

Other channels now available for viewing on the digital platform include E.F.K.S. T.V.; the Catholic church's T.V. station; and Kingdom T.V.  

Fesola'i maintained that the quality of digital T.V. service was unaffected by weather fluctuations. 

"Tests were conducted in the P.O.C. (Proof of Concept) stage to gather information for engineers to fine tune the equipment and set top boxes for optimum performance in any weather condition especially rainy and stormy seasons," she said.

But some digital T.V. users have reported that their connections were disrupted during a period of rough weather across the country last month.

Fesola'i said the problem may have been caused by the connections of customers’ wires and hardware, or their set top box connections to their televisions. 

"It depends on what exactly the issues are; but in terms of coverage the Project is still being rolled out,” Fesola'i said. 

In late January, the Minister of Community, Information and Technology said inclement weather was to be blamed for delays to the planned national rollout.  

Afamasaga predicted that by the end of March or April, Samoa would be fully covered which would be the trigger point for analogue TV to be switched off.

Members of the public can switch to digital T.V. by purchasing a digital box from participating stores for $55 tala.  

The controversial policy saw one church television station pulling the plug on its broadcast operation last November. 

The B.Y.U. T.V. station made the decision to forfeit its broadcasting license, saying it was no longer “feasible” to comply with the transition initiative. 

The withdrawal by the T.V. station and concerns raised by the broadcasters on the affordability of licensing fees required to make the switch. 

The Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, intervened in the matter. 

Following a meeting with the T.V. operators in November, Tuilaepa ordered the Regulator to revoke an order entailing a $23,000 monthly tariff payment. 

After negotiations with the Digital T.V. and T.V. industry, the tariff was negotiated and reduced to $18,000 per month for a trial basis of 6 months. 

The districts already covered by digital television now include: Itumalo Vaimauga Sasae – part of, Itumalo Faasaleleaga I, Itumalo Vaimauga Sisifo, Itumalo Faasaleleaga II, Itumalo Faleata Sasae, Itumalo Faasaleleaga III, Itumalo Faleata Sisifo, Itumalo Faasaleleaga IV, Itumalo Sagaga Le Falefa, Itumalo Palauli Sisifo (Taga) part, Itumalo Sagaga Le Usoga, Itumalo Palauli Le Falefa, Itumalo Aana Alofi II, Itumalo Satupaitea, Itumalo Gagaemauga (Leauvaa)- part of, Itumalo Palauli Sasae, Itumalo Aana Alofi I, Itumalo Aana Alofi III, Itumalo Aiga I le Tai, Itumalo Falelatai ma Samatau, Itumalo Lefaga ma Faleseela, Itumalo Gagaemauga II (Salamumu) - part of, Itumalo Safata, Itumalo Siumu, Itumalo Anoama’a Sasa’e.

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