Minister of Communications Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.
- Communications Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said 1.1 million households out of 3.7 million have been registered for the digital migration process.
- Ntshavheni said government migrated 556 954 beneficiary households from the current total of 1.184 million.
- She said almost 10.5 million households out of just over 14 million have self-migrated through private satellite boxes.
Communications Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the television broadcast digital migration process is set to meet the 31 March 2022 deadline that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his State of the Nation Address earlier this year.
While the switch-off of the analogue broadcasting signal has been on the agenda of government since 2005 and initially envisaged to be concluded in time for the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament, the programme suffered multiple setbacks, ultimately missing the final 17 June 2015 deadline.
In 2006, South Africa acceded to the International Telecommunication Union agreement in Geneva that year which determined that Region 1 countries must migrate from analogue to digital signal by mid-2015.
Ntshavheni said 1.1 million qualifying households out of an estimated 3.7 million beneficiary households were registered for the migration process. She said the broadcast digital migration (BDM) programme was about halfway through to reaching all targeted households.
“Since the inception of the BDM programme, 556 954 beneficiary households have been migrated from the current total of 1.184 million. In addition, almost 10.5 million households out of just over 14 million TV households self-migrated through private satellite boxes,” said Ntshavheni.
Ntshavheni said DSTV helped with the “self-migration” of 7.8 million households, while OpenViewHD facilitated 2.3 million households, and StarSat facilitated 450 000 households.
“To date, Sentech has been able to switch off all 84 sites [of] MultiChoice analogue transmissions, 105 out of 288 or 37% SABC analogue transmissions and four of the 95, or 4%, of eTV analogue transmissions,” Ntshavheni said.
Ntshavheni said the benefits of concluding the process would come in the broadcasting space as well as other industries and services that also stand to benefit from the release of spectrum.
“When the digital migration programme was initiated in 2005, it was not to drive spectrum. The benefit of freeing spectrum comes in, but we need to migrate and ensure that 5G spectrum for broadcast, production and services is available and used for the development of this country,” she said.
Ntshavheni said the department would be going to Cabinet with a policy proposal for codes and standards for digital television sets as they have been done in other countries to avoid the importing or dumping of analogue television sets in South Africa.
The department told reporters that there were 840 000 set-top boxes in storage, which government had procured, and installations would be conducted in the Free State, Northern Cape and North West.
She said the benefits that would come with the completion of the digital terrestrial television (DTT) migration process will include a vaster bouquet of content for viewers, especially viewers who have only had access to content from the South African Broadcasting Corporation.
“The public bouquet services will allow South Africans to receive all 19 SABC radio on DTT, irrespective of where you are in South Africa. This is not possible with analogue technology,” said Ntshavheni.
Ntshavheni said the Department of Communications would report to Cabinet once a month as well as update the nation on the latest developments on a monthly basis.
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