Farm communities register for subsidised decoders

Thursday, October 4, 2018

By Mish Molakeng

As the rainy season approaches, for many crop farmers in the Free State, this is the time to prepare their fields and get ready for planting crops.

But Johann du Plessis, a maize farmer located in the area between Senekal and Steynsrus in the Free State, took time out of his busy schedule to take workers from his farm to the Post Office to register for government-subsidised set-top boxes (STBs). 

“When I heard on radio that the analogue transmitters in Senekal will be switched-off and qualifying households still have an opportunity to get to the Post Office to register for the decoders, I made it a point to bring them here today,” Du Plessis said. 

Government is giving indigent household free STBs as the country migrates from analogue to digital broadcasting. The move is part of a global shift aimed at freeing up spectrum for other broadband services.

Lele Mpasa, a Community Development Worker in Steynsrus who has been visiting farms to register farmworkers for government-subsidized decoders, says the message is being well received by farming communities. 

“Farm owners are very cooperative and have allowed us to interact with farms workers about the digital migration project. Some farmers have undertaken the responsibility to bring the workers to the Post Office in town to register for the broadcasting digital migration decoders,” said Mpasa.  

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane announced three months ago that all the analogue transmitters in the Free State province will be switched-off at the end of December 2018. Analogue switch-off is a process of turning off the analogue terrestrial television signal. Once the analogue signal is switched off, it will be replaced by a digital signal.

The first analogue transmitter to be switched off was the Senekal transmitter. This means that the analogue signal is now discontinued in Senekal, Meloding, Ventersburg, Marquard, Arlington and Steynsrus. Registrations for government-subsidised decoders in many of these town has surpassed the projected numbers of qualifying households.

Meanwhile, Post Office staff has been hard at working capturing application forms for the government-subsidised decoders.

“Every day I leave the office after 9pm to ensure that I capture all the applications and process all documentation needed for the installation of decoders,” said Ntoane Letsolo, the Post Office manager in Steynsrus.

The Department of Communications has also enlisted the support of provincial and local governments to encourage qualifying residents to register for government-subsidised decoders. 

Additionally, the department is working with the South African Post Office to reach communities and to distribute the subsidised television decoders to qualifying households. Help desks have been set up at various Post Office outlets across the Free State to assist television viewing households with all the information they need to know about digital migration. –