South Africa has been working on the digital migration process which is designed to ensure Television and Radio broadcasting signals move from analogue to signal. Governments’ attempts to move from analogue to digital are over a decade old with multiple deadlines missed along the way. Addressing the media, Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane announced the approval by cabinet of the revised digital migration policy. Here are a few points worth noting in this revised policy.
- The shift in policy has been made after government was advised that existing set-top boxes were using technology that has increasingly become obsolete.
- Government will no longer procure, distribute and connect these set-top boxes meant to facilitate the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting for around five million poor households, a project that was costing R7-billion‚ opting for an industry-driven “hybrid model”.
- To date the set-top box project has cost R10-billion, including warehousing costs of these gadgets.
- Government will however start distributing the set-top boxes that had already been manufactured to poor households in the Free State‚ North-West and the Northern Cape.
- Disadvantaged and poor households will still be cushioned, just not through set-top boxes with vouchers being one of the considerations.
- Government would seek a public-private partnership with dominant players in broadcasting such as Multichoice and the SABC to take the digital migration forward.
- Government is working with a “multi-disciplinary advisory council” on the implementation of its new stance on digital migration‚ which also comprised of manufacturers of digital decoders‚ the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa)‚ Stats SA and Telkom among others.
The digital migration project is expected to push digital viewership migration to the 85% threshold and beyond, towards switching off all analogue broadcasts.