Broadcasters left in digital limbo - TechCentral

Broadcasters left in digital limbo

Communications minister Roy Padayachie

Cabinet on Wednesday discussed the issue of which standard SA will adopt for digital terrestrial television broadcasting. Curiously, however, no reference was made to the issue in Thursday’s cabinet statement.

Broadcasters may now have to wait until the new year to know which standard SA will adopt for digital terrestrial television.

Government spokesman Themba Maseko says the issue was discussed by cabinet but communications minister Roy Padayachie indicated to the meeting that he first had to investigate a number of issues before issuing a statement.

Cabinet has empowered Padayachie to make the statement when he is ready to do so. His spokesman, Pearl Seopelo, could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

The delay means broadcasters, including the SABC, and M-Net, as well as state-owned signal distributor Sentech, will have to wait longer to find out which standard the country will deploy.

The delays are likely to frustrate the broadcasters, which are keen to get on with the job of migrating the country to digital broadcasts.

A Southern African Development Community (SADC) task team last month recommended that the region deploy the second generation of the European standard for digital broadcasts, known as DVB-T2. However, the task team left the door open for individual countries to select their own standard provided they adhere to certain technical rules.

Brazil and Japan have lobbied hard in recent months to have SADC countries abandon an agreement to roll out the first generation of the European standard and to instead adopt a hybrid Brazilian-Japanese standard known as ISDB-Tb.

Former communications department director-general Mamodupi Mohlala entertained the Brazilian and Japanese lobbyists, much to the chagrin of commercial broadcasters M-Net and, both of which want the region to adopt the European standard.

Sentech is already well down the road in implementing a network based on the original European standard.

It’s not clear yet what Padayachie will recommend to cabinet when the issue comes up for discussion.

Deputy communications minister Obed Bapela told TechCentral in an interview on Wednesday that he would not pre-empt the cabinet meeting by saying which standard the department would propose for the country.  — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral


  1. We are ITU Region 1, Europe is ITU Region 1…. How difficult is the decision or is it the African way of seeing who offers the biggest ‘incentive’?
    I’m not a TV boffin, but gouing with all reports by ‘clever’ (knowledgeable?) individuals, DVB-T2 is the way to go…

  2. DVB/isdbt as long as it turns to digital and end users can plug up within itu standards. SA better hurry-up because SABC has a choice though limited by government. At the end of the day it is about local Domestic Produce and where we as South Africa place ourselves in GDP, to be and investment. remember SA does not solely count on the private sector to contribute to growth.

    We do incur debt and local tax is not the only source of income. the question is “Who is going to burn their bridges now”.

    Who is the fore runners in GDP and exchange. Remember this is not a personal vendetta but a unified strive to be amongst the financially fit…….

  3. DVB-T far superior to ISDB, DVB-T2 beats them both
    The South African Digital Broadcasting Association (SADIBA) has released data supporting the adoption of DVB-T and DVB-T2, over the Brazilian variant of the Japanese ISDB-T system.
    This recommendation is based upon the performance data of the various DTT systems as published by the International Telecommunications Union. The comparison concludes that DVB-T is slightly better than ISDB-T and that DVB-T2 outperforms both “by leaps and bounds”. In a presentation to the University of the Witwatersrand, SADIBA’s Gerhard Petrick said that DVB-T2 yielded 67% more payload at equivalent coverage and network cost.
    A South African DVB-T2 trial started recently and is currently transmitting 18 channels over Johannesburg. Channels include SABC1, 2 and 3, ETV, MNet and interactive services. The industry support for DVB-T2 is growing by the day and looks the most logical DTT solution for South Africa.
    Source: Broadband TV News and SADIBA review
    Item added: 8th November 2010

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