SA ready to step into digital realm

Friday, April 17, 2015

Johannesburg – Communications Minister Faith Muthambi says South Africa is well on track to successfully implement broadcasting digital migration.  

Speaking at the Southern African Digital Broadcasting Workshop in Randburg on Friday, Minister Muthambi said the implementation process is expected to take about 18 months.

The need for the digital terrestrial television (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. 

Minister Muthambi said a DTT Project Management Office has been established and is hard at work behind the scenes to get South Africa on track.

To help in the migration process, government will provide free set top boxes (STBs) to more than five million poor household owners to migrate broadcasting services from analogue to digital. 

The Minister said the necessary policy amendments have been finalised and were approved by Cabinet on 4 March 2015. The amendments were subsequently gazetted on 18 March. 

“We continue to engage with all the stakeholders involved in this process in order to encourage them to play their respective roles in implementing broadcasting digital migration. 

“I am informed that work to finalise the technical set top box control specifications is at an advanced stage,” Minister Mthambi said.

In order to manage issues related to signal interference with neighbouring states after the digital signal “switch on”, Minister Muthambi said they are working on a programme to engage neighbouring countries to conclude bilateral agreements. 

Minister Muthambi said the ministers of neighbouring states are well aware of the need to engage with South Africa on this matter.

“Closer to home, we are working with entities and stakeholders to enhance and expedite consumer awareness around digital migration.  

“We have also embarked on a massive communication programme to spread the word about digital migration,” she said. 

The digital transition in broadcasting is a global process involving the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting signals. It has the potential to improve both the quantity and quality of what is available on TV and to increase the number of people who will be able to watch it. 

The transition from analogue to digital impacts television viewers, media companies and TV channels in different ways, in that television viewers will get improved picture and sound quality. 

Taking a stand against attacks on foreign nationals

The Minister took a moment to comment on the current attacks on foreign nationals.

“… We must all take the stand and say wrong is wrong. No one has the right to attack or kill another human being, especially those who chose our country as their homes and hope for economic recovery.

“As broadcasters and all citizens, I urge you, like the adverts or public service announcements I am hearing now running on the SABC radio stations, to strongly condemn the unwarranted attacks in the spirit of nation building and social cohesion.” –