SA moves closer to analogue switch-off as minister, broadcasters meet

2017-07-06 09:14 - Kyle Venktess, Fin24
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Minister of Communications Ayanda Dlodlo. (Photo: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo is set to meet with local broadcasters in the latest progression towards the country’s broadcasting digital migration.

Dlodlo will meet the SABC, e.tv, StarSat and stakeholders participating in the programme on Thursday.

The meeting brings South Africa closer to meeting its December 2018 deadline to switch off analogue. 

“The aim is to ensure that all affected stakeholders jointly come up with a plan that will assist government to meet its obligation to  ensure that South Africans are migrated from analogue to digital television platforms by December 2018,”  a statement by the department said. 

READ: Communications minister wants to speed up SA's digital migration

Most recently, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of former communications minister Faith Muthambi against an appeal filed by e.tv.

The judgment followed an appeal lodged by Muthambi in May 2016 on the ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, that she did not follow due process in her decision to amend the broadcasting digital migration policy. 

Muthambi has since moved on to a new portfolio as minister of public service and administration.

The country’s digital broadcast migration project has been dogged by delays, with the company behind the rollout of set-top boxes even temporarily halting production of the boxes needed to ensure signal to television sets.

Set-top boxes decode digital signals for analogue television sets and the government plans to distribute these devices to about 5 million poorer households.

The rollout is key to South Africa’s digital migration project, which intends to shift the SABC, e.tv and other broadcasters off from analogue signals and open up radio frequencies for faster mobile broadband services.

READ: SKA goes digital as Northern Cape switches off analogue TV signal

Last year a Supreme Court of Appeal judgment struck down Muthambi’s decision not to encrypt these boxes.

Muthambi and broadcaster MultiChoice challenged the matter in the Constitutional Court in February, with the decision now overturned.

The first phase of the analogue switch-off and migration to digital broadcasting commenced in October last year in the Northern Cape.

The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) area in the province became the first province in the country to switch off its analogue signal, with analogue transmitters switched off in Van Wyksvlei, Brandvlei, Williston, Vosburg and Carnarvon.

The department recently said that 18 analogue transmitters in the core towns of the SKA area have been switched off and that the department has registered 185 000 qualifying households.


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Read more about: e.tv  |  sabc  |  digital migration