Every South African household with a TV set will be forced to pay R700 for a set top box (STB) or will lose their free TV signals.
The South African government will only be subsidising a portion of the cost for the “poorest of the poor” households – a mere 6% of TV households. And ordinary consumers and viewers who are largely uninformed and in the dark about the process which an expert calls “shambolic”, will be forced to make the move to digital terrestrial television (DTT) or lose their TV signals from the SABC, e.tv and others.
This process is known as digital migration – a switch during which the South African TV industry and broadcasters all have to move from terrestrial signals to digital broadcasting similar to the rest of the world.
The final international deadline is June 2015 with several countries which have long ago successfully completed the process. South Africa is now lagging far behind the rest of the world in the digital migration process. Although South Africa started with the process as the first country on the continent, the country has been passed by several African nations and islands who’ve implemented DTT.
South Africa’s painful and painfully slow process – the commercial and consumer implementation launch date which should have taken place more than two years ago – keeps being moved. Last year the government moved it for the umpteenth time to April. It has now again been pushed back by government to the third quarter of this year and now September.
Since South Africa started, the country has had a turnstall of four ministers of communications, a Digital Dzonga advisory council that was started and disbanded twice and which no longer exists, continued infighting between broadcasters, fighting between the industry and the government over a first fixed then uncertain digital standard, major delays in the establishment of a STB manufacturing standard, signal encryption squabbles, huge ongoing confusion amongst STB manufacturers and fears that South Africa will become a dumping ground for obsolete technology.
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