Traditional Affairs gives digital migration the thumbs up

Thursday, November 8, 2018

By Mish Molakeng

As the deadline towards switching off analogue transmitters draws closer, the House of Traditional Affairs in the Free State has given the project its full support.

South Africa is in the process of switching from analogue transmission to digital broadcasting, which will result in a host of benefits, including better picture quality and more spectrum will be released to provide new services such as wireless and other broadband.  

Analogue television transmitters are set to be switched off in the Free State by the end of December 2018. Those who have not migrated to the digital television platform by then will lose all broadcast services.

On Wednesday, senior officials from the Department of Communications updated delegates at the Local Government Lekgotla in Bloemfontein on progress in implementing the digital migration project in the Free State.  

The two-day lekgotla was also attended by traditional leaders from the province.

Mokete Duma, from the Free State Department of Traditional Affairs, said: “We have already written to various traditional councils in the province to rally behind the project and we have given the activity schedule for the community mobalisation programme for the broadcasting digital migration project in respective districts across the province. 

“This will assist in meeting targets for the project and ensuring that analogue switch off becomes a reality in the province.”

Duma said they would also be setting up technical teams to assist them as challenges arise in relation to the project.

The Department of Communications is working with the South African Post Office to distribute subsidised television decoders to qualifying households. The department is now enlisting the support of provincial government and municipalities to encourage qualifying residents to register for this benefit.

Registrations for government-subsidised decoders in the Free State is standing at 64 percent across the province.

“It is encouraging to see the registration uptake for subsidised decoders gaining traction in the province. We remain confident that with the support we are getting from the provincial government, we will switch off all the analogue transmitters by the end of December," said Aldred Dreyer, Head of the Broadcasting Digital Migration Project. 

Dreyer welcomed those who have already registered to get “a clearer signal and more channels”.

“We also encourage households that fall outside the qualifying criteria to get digital-enabled TV sets, and migrate with us. We are saying to the public when buying a new TV set, ensure that it has a digital tuner. Become part of the digital revolution and migrate with us."

Dreyer said the DSTV, OVHD and StarSat services are already digital.

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has recently said urgency is needed to ensure a complete switch-over from analogue to digital.

Last month, the Broadcasting Digital Migration colloquium in Bloemfontein resolved that the Office of the Premier will work closely with the department to intensify public education around the project in the province. –