Usaasa sets out set-top box subsidy plan - TechCentral

Usaasa sets out set-top box subsidy plan


The Universal Service & Access Agency of South Africa (Usaasa), the government agency tasked with bridging South Africa’s digital divide, has provided details of those who will qualify for a subsidy when buying a set-top box for watching digital terrestrial television.

The subsidies proposed range from 66% for households with no income to 15% for those earning up to R2 499/month, according to Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn, who has had sight of the Usaasa document, which is entitled “Qualifying Criteria for the Set-Top Box Scheme of Ownership and Support”.

In areas needing satellite transmission — in other words, those outside the digital terrestrial coverage areas — the subsidy ranges from 77% for no-or-low income households to 29% for those with an income up to R3 200/month, according to Shinn.

Subsidies will apply only to valid TV licence holders, including concessionary TV licence holders. Those seeking the subsidy must provide proof of ownership of an operational TV set and proof of household income or dependency on social grants.

The deadline for comments on the criteria is 26 November.

Shinn says the publication of the qualifying criteria – which could apply to as many as 5m households – must be welcomed. But she says the deadline of mid-June 2015, agreed to the International Telecommunication Union, will not be met. And she is concerned that an ongoing turf war between the department of telecommunications and postal services and the department of communications could still lead to further delays to digital migration.  — © 2014 NewsCentral Media


  1. On and endlessly on this charade goes. What is bubbling under? Can’t find enough deployed cronies/usual suspects at Luthuli House who want a piece of the action in digital TV?
    Or possibly the nasty fact of: FIRST you purchase your TV licence and only then can you get your subsidised set top box. Not a great way to win votes for the ANC in squatter camps.

  2. Why not settle for DSTV or OpenHD decoders? DSTV HD decoders are now selling for R499 at Games and Hi Fi Installations. DSTV subscription starts at R29-00 per month. OpenHD is FREE to Air television with 18 good channels – some in HD. OpenHD is selling for R699 for a decoder. People can use any satellite disc. OpenHD is FREE – no subscription fees at all.
    Use bandwidth on Sentech for video on demand and Internet.

  3. If I have a valid TV licence, why do I need to prove ownership of a TV set? If I acquired the TV set as a gift, or second-hand, how do I prove ownership? Either way, not too many will qualify for a subsidy. Yet another way the ANC government destroys its own service delivery through obstructive implementation.

  4. The ANC has a plan – “concessionary TV licence holders”. ANC members can get a concession and pay zippo. Just another way to make economic freedom a reality.

  5. Actually Antonio the ANC has an even better plan it’s called SARS…You may have heard of that plan?

  6. I had a look at the 18 channels on that OpenHD and they are too dreadful for words. The programmes are suitable for a viewing audience in an Alex Shebeen only.
    To be honest the entire 18 channels should come with a health warning!
    I don’t wonder they are free to air NOBODY in their right minds would ever pay to look at this rubbish.

  7. Clearly you miss the Point! OpenHD is perfect for thousands or even millions of South Africans. They offer great programming for FREE. Nice movies on eMovies, local stuff on eKasi, eAfrica, Mindset Education, eToonz for Kids, SABC1 to 3, Gospel Channels, etc etc. Not bad for FREE. Government should use the eTV Satellite platform on the DSTV satellite TV.

  8. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    The whole STB plan was daft reasoning from the onset. The unit in most households which is going to become obsolete is the TV set;

    …and that is the unit that needs replacing; rather than trying to create some gravy-train BEE electronic industry that up to now still has not been able to offer any competition to the likes of Altech UEC.

    Bringing in a TV set to exchange for a subsidized open standard digital TV, the likes of which are already being mass produced by a number of manufacturers (who could be incentivized to setup plants locally as with the likes of Samsung)

    …would have been the most sensible solution for this subsidy plan and would have provided for a much faster transition process than the joke of a situation that we currently have.

  9. D. That is good. You do not need to be in everyone’s target audience. But, please, allow millions other the great opportunity of FREE television.

  10. I have been against this ultra daft STB subsidy and total control of STB manufacturing by Gov from the very onset 6, 7 years ago.
    It is way too complicated, cumbersome and expensive. Just another chance for more inefficient bureaucracy and cadre kickbacks.
    KISS, Keep It Straight and Simple.
    Just as I felt that the DVB-T2 signal should be kept unencrypted as much as possible, as it would eliminate the need of STBs all together. Many new TVs already have a digital terrestrial decoder for DVB-T2 built in, or could be easily included for less than R 100.
    But certain broadcasters feel a need to have encryption in order to obtain special , more recent content from the content providers.
    The manufacturing and distribution of STBs( with or without a decoder for encrypted signal) should be left to the broadcasters and open market.
    So KISS, – Scrap DTT subsidy and distribution by Gov
    – Scrap TV licenses, only about 30% of households have one any way. SABC gets 87% of its revenue from ads.
    – Scrap USAASA, a totally useless money wasting agency.

    And finally privatise SABC/Sentech completely.
    I know, all not very likely to happen under the present wealth destroying regime.

  11. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>But certain broadcasters feel a need to have encryption in order to obtain special , more recent content from the content providers.

    ETV should fund its own STBs with CA and market the devices themselves as they’ve done with their satellite OVHD platform… and the numbers for the first year, already speak for themselves.

    The premium content providers are exploring online direct-to-consumer platforms of their own similar to Netflix given the likes of HBO GO & CBS All Access and many others soon to follow suite.

    This whole STB plan needs to be scrapped because it will definitely be another waste of tax payers money just like all the NEF, IDC, etc. funding that went into Top TV. To top-it-off (or rather bottom-it-off), ETV no longer has the leadership of a CEO like Golding and the take-up of their DTT offering is not going to be any better than what they’ve achieved so far with OVHD on DTH; and having opted to have the game played on a CA platform, things are only going to get much worse with Multichoice in the mix.

    If their Cisco platform only manages to get say 2.5% market penetration; with Irdeto at 70% plus; and an SABC supported Nagravision platform having the remainder after say 18 months of switch-on… the idea of un-encrypted FTA signals will suddenly become appealing.

    The other players are definitely not going to be returning the same favor of giving them the free-ride on OVHD that they are giving the SABC (probably the main reason why they’ve actually managed to even sell some units); and having to pay to have their FTA services on the other more popular CA platforms won’t go down too well with shareholders, more especially if they are still going to have to pay for the same FTA services to be on SES5 as well.

  12. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    Spoken like a true representative of the masses in their millions…

    Why is it then; I wonder… that the masses aren’t warming up to OVHD. Could it be that those pushing it are vested in it solely to benefit themselves at the detriment of millions…? Surely Not!!

  13. And stop paying SABC licence fees for something you cannot receive (direct from them) nor want!

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