Government to announce date for digital migration soon

Pretoria - Communications Minister Faith Muthambi will soon announce the date for the migration of broadcasting services from analogue to digital.

“The Minister of Communications will announce the digital signal switch on and analogue signal switch off date shortly.  The priority will be given to those households in the border region areas of the country,” said Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe said, at the post Cabinet media briefing in Cape Town on Thursday.

Minister Radebe also announced that government will provide free set top boxes (STBs) to more than five million poor household owners to migrate broadcasting services from analogue to digital.

Cabinet has also approved the Broadcasting Digital Migration Amendment Policy with the inclusion of the control system in the STB, which will be clearly defined when the policy is published, Minister Radebe said.

Minister Muthambi, who was also part of the post Cabinet media briefing, said the approval of the policy will fast track the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) migration project in the country.

With the international June 2015 deadline looming to migrate broadcasting services from analogue to digital, Minister Muthambi said STBs will be manufactured in the country. She said most of the manufacturing companies are ready to deliver as they were waiting for government to finalise its processes.

Minister Muthambi said they will rely on the municipal free basic services (FBS) register to identify poor households to get STBs. Home owners must be in possession of a South African ID and a TV licence.

The need for the DTT programme derives from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) resolution, where countries in region 1 (including Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran) should migrate their broadcasting services from analogue to digital by 17 June 2015.

The main reason for the migration is to release valuable spectrum, which can be used for other services. Spectrum is scarce and it is therefore necessary to make efficient use of the spectrum available for more telecommunications and broadcasting services.

The consequences of failing to meet the 2015 deadline to switch off the analogue terrestrial TV signals is that South Africa will no longer be protected against disruptions of radio waves that are used for analogue television broadcasts.

In terms of network readiness, the country is standing at 82%, while the broadcasting companies in the country, including the public broadcaster, are ready with regard to content. -