Digital TV soon to become a reality

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Sibonelo Masondo is a 68-year-old pensioner who loves watching sports on television. Watching his favourite soccer teams play is the only thing he looks forward to on TV every weekend.

But poor television signal at his village means masondo is unable to fully enjoy his television viewing. He is one of many South Africans living in remote parts of the country who are subjected to poor quality TV picture and radio signal. This is one of the reasons South Africa has joined hundreds of other countries to move towards the more efficient digital radio and television to allow people like Masondo enjoy quality TV and radio.  

From the 1970s when TV started in South Africa, the country used analogue signals and some broadcasters such as SABC TV and radio stations are unfortunately still using this technology to this day. Government now wants South Africa to make the transition to digital. The Department of Communications has been tasked to roll out a process of migrating all South African households to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

Better quality TV and radio

This process of migration is a government initiative and will allow users to experience the many benefits of digital television which include, among others, clearer pictures and sound as well as more channels to choose from. It’s similar to the movement away from record players to CD players – which have made music listening experience a whole lot better.

“It’s a whole new experience that we want South Africans to experience. We need all South Africans know that digital migration is here, the project has not stalled. We are going to make sure that we migrate everyone,” Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on Thursday.

She was in Bizana, Eastern Cape where she led all-day long DTT awareness campaign. The Minister said she’s been concerned about the slow pace in registering for the set-top boxes required for digital migration. South African households with low income qualify for a subsidised set-top decoder.

The set-top boxes will give access to more than 18 television channels, including the SABC) channels, e-TV and community channels.

These set-top box decoders will be necessary to continue watching television when South Africa switches to digital television transmission. The registration of households for digital television decoders started a year ago in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope area of the Northern Cape but registration has been slow.

“The numbers are actually quite low, that is why we are constantly on the road to raise awareness and register people. We want people to understand that they need to go and register for them to receive these decoders,” Minister Kubayi said. She visited several households in the Bizana area where she took it upon herself to register beneficiaries.

OR Tambo centenary celebrations

Bizana has been abuzz with activities this week in preparation for the centenary celebrations to mark 100 years since South Africa’s liberation hero Oliver Tambo was born there in October 1917. The celebrations on Friday are expected to be attended by thousands of people including international guests.

Minister Kubayi said it was important that, as the nation celebrates Tambo’s centenary, delivery of basic services is accelerated. This is what Tambo, who was born in the Vilage of Nkantolo outside Bizana, would have wanted, she said.

“As we celebrate and mark the contribution of comrade OR, it is our responsibility to ensure that we speed up the delivery of much needed services to the people,” the Minister said after delivering new laptops to Vukuzenzele Intermediate School.

Children at the school live with disabilities and mostly are on wheelchairs. Unlike their pairs, these children are unable to travel to community libraries or internet shops where they can access the internet. The new laptops, which are fully connected with internet, will help them in their studies and research.

“There will be training that will be provided for both learners and teachers so that these laptops don’t become toys that are just standing there. We want this equipment to be utilised optimally,” Minister Kubayi said. Food donations were also distributed to the identified families in the area while children from disadvantaged homes received stationery.

Learner transport

Also in Bizana, The Department of Transport, through its Shova Kalula Programme, donated bicycles to three hundred leaners from OR Tambo Technical High, Nkantolo Primary, and Qobo Combined School. The Shova Kalula National Bicycle Programme is a ministerial initiative of the National Department of Transport to provide low cost mobility solutions to learners and farm workers.

During the pilot phases of the programme, the department procured and distributed over 100 000 bicycles to learners in all provinces and forms part of the overall learner transport programme that is currently being implemented across the country by provinces.

The Road Accident Fund (RAF) has so far spent R1 million towards the upgrading of OR Tambo Technical High School.

RAF has spent R500 000 towards the implementation of low cost infrastructure interventions speed humps, guard rails and signage. In addition, South African National Road Agency Limited SANRAL is contributing educational material on Road Safety in support of the OR Tambo Centenary.

The Department of Water and sanitation launched the Ludeke Dam The dam is part of the Greater Mbizana Bulk Water Supply Programme that will supply water to 801 344 people living in 178 347 households in Matatiele, Mbizana, Ntabankulu and Umzimvubu. –