Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has drawn a line in the sand, saying the switch-off of analogue television broadcasts in South Africa will happen by the end of March next year.
The minister, who recently replaced Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in the crucial portfolio, said analogue broadcasts will be completely switched off in the Free State later this month, or by the first week of November at the latest.
Setting out a timetable of action, the minister said this will be followed by:
- The remaining 11 analogue sites in the Northern Cape by mid-November or late November;
- The remaining 15 sites in North West by mid-November or late November;
- All remaining sites in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, which will be switched off in the last week of December or the first week of January; and
- All remaining sites in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Guateng at the end of January.
Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa told parliament that the analogue switch-off would be completed by March 2022. “This is the date the department of communications & digital technologies is working hard to, to ensure it is met,” Ntshavheni said in a live-streamed address in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Indigent households still hoping to get a free set-top box have until the end of this month to visit a Post Office to register their interest. Those that do so will get a set-top box before analogue signals are terminated. Those that register after this date are only guaranteed to get a set-top box three to six months after the switch-off date.
So far, only 1.18 million qualifying households have registered, out of the 3.75 million that government estimates qualify for the subsidised devices and installation, the minister said.
She said almost 10.5 million households have already “self-migrated” through the purchase of private satellite boxes – 7.8 million households through MultiChoice’s DStv; 2.3 million through eMedia Holdings’ Openview; and 450 000 through StarSat.
To date, Sentech, the state-owned broadcasting signal distributor, has switched off 84 analogue sites. All MultiChoice sites have already been switched off, while 105 of the 288 SABC sites have also been switched off. Of the 95 sites used by e.tv, only four have been switched off.
Ntshavheni said she has introduced a “managed integrated model” that involves all broadcasting sector players to drive the installation and uptake of digital set-top boxes “to ensure rapid reach”. Participants include MultiChoice, e.tv/Openview, StarSat, Telkom and the SABC. She has also established a steering committee, which she is chairing. This committee is meeting weekly to “lead the switchover process”.
Sentech chief operating officer Tebogo Leshope has been appointed as broadcasting digital migration project manager. – © 2021 NewsCentral Media