Government keeping its pro-poor promise through DTT

Friday, March 24, 2017
Nthambeleni Gabara

Ladybrand - The distribution of subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) to poor TV-owning households is a clear indication that government is able to keep its pro-poor policy, says Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.

Today, Minister Muthambi is leading a door-to-door registration drive for STBs in the small border town of Ladybrand in the Free State, where TV reception is poor.

“We are at the border town to encourage our people to register for subsidised STBs… We also want to inform residents at an Imbizo that digital migration is here, that it is their responsibility to visit their nearest Post Office to register so that we are able to give them the government subsidised STBs.

“The poverty of our people in this town is massive. It is our quest as government to ensure that everybody migrates from analogue to digital television. We are going to subsidise all poor TV-owning households who earn less than R3 200. The distribution of STBs is a clear indication that as government, we’ve kept our promise of being a caring government with pro-poor policies.”

Minister Muthambi said priority is given to the provinces along South African borders in order to minimise the prospects of signal interference with neighbouring countries that are ready to use mobile communication services in the spectrum currently used by analogue television transmissions.

During the door-to-door visits, some of those who registered for STBs shared their stories with Minister Muthambi on how digital migration restored their dignity.

Ratafane Maleshoane, 69, said: “I never thought I would ever enjoy watching quality TV pictures in my lifetime. TV reception is poor in this area, but that’s history… I am also able to listen to Lesedi FM and several other radio stations.”

Another beneficiary, Rahihi Pulane, 34, said: “I have never heard of digital migration until the team came to my house last week to connect the decoder on my analogue television set. It was frustrating to watch television with poor reception. We thank government for making sure that even poor people like myself and my kids are also able to enjoy clear television pictures, just like other South Africans.”

Digital broadcasting works by translating sound and picture into digital data rather than analogue waveforms and the process is key for opening up more frequencies and faster mobile broadband services.

Government is providing free STBs to five million poor TV-owning households across the country. Minister Muthambi used her digital migration Imbizo to urge poor households, who qualify for the government subsidy, to register for free STBs at their respective local Post Office branches.

However, in order to qualify, households must earn less than R3 200 per month.

More registrations for STBs are underway in the Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, while registrations will open in the North West, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng at a later stage.

Ladybrand is situated 18km from Maseru, the capital of Lesotho. South Africa and Lesotho have signed an agreement on mitigating cross-border radio frequency spectrum interference as a result of the digital migration programme.

Residents living in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) community of Keimoes and Kai Garib in the Northern Cape were the first people in South Africa to experience digital terrestrial television (DTT) in the country following the unveiling of the registration process for STBs in the area on 3 October 2015 by Minister Muthambi.

Subsequent to this, Minister Muthambi launched the first installation of government subsidised STBs in Keimoes in December last year.

On 28 October 2016, South Africans celebrated a significant milestone when Minister Muthambi officially turned off the analogue system in the SKA area. -

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