This report finds that the transition to digital broadcasting, which has the power to bring new views and voices to the television airwaves, has yet to deliver those benefits in many developing countries.
A technology transition that has the power to bring new views and voices to the television airwaves has yet to deliver those benefits in many developing countries. Costs, political meddling, courtroom feuds, and regulatory inexperience all contribute to holding them back.
In countries such as Georgia, international media development groups and local civil society are fighting to ensure the benefits of the switch, which retires old “analog” TV broadcast systems in favor of modern ones that employ digital technology. But in many other countries—Nigeria is an example—the change is proceeding with scant input from non‑governmental groups.
Ideally, the switch fosters pluralism on the airwaves by creating new channels through more efficient use of the world’s limited supply of broadcast spectrum. But the transition can also become an ominous tool for the domination of television by governments.
Indeed, the switch to digital TV is among the most important challenges facing the media development community today, a process rife with opportunities for governments and well-connected tycoons to further their control of media. Since television is the number one medium for most of the world, with an estimated 5 billion sets in use, manipulation of the transition can deprive large groups of people of access to independent voices and alternative views.