Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, speaking to MPs on Tuesday during the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address, repeated a claim that South Africa has switched off analogue broadcasting in five of the nine provinces.
But a closer interrogation of the facts shows that this is not entirely true.
While Sentech has switched off all analogue broadcasts of the SABC in the Free State, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape (with a promise by the minister that the remaining four provinces will follow by end-March), e.tv continues to broadcast in analogue in these five provinces.
A Sentech spokeswoman, responding to a query from TechCentral, confirmed that only the SABC’s analogue television broadcasts have been terminated in the five provinces that the minister on Tuesday claimed had completed switch-off. In fact, TechCentral has established that e.tv continues to broadcast in analogue in all nine provinces.
A department of communications & digital technologies spokesman has subsequently informed this publication that two e.tv analogue transmissions have been switched off – one in small town of Senekal in the Free State and the other in Aliwal North in the remote Eastern Cape. But in the big cities, including Bloemfontein in the Free State and Polokwane in Limpopo, e.tv continues to deliver its broadcasts to viewers through analogue transmissions.
E.tv parent eMedia Holdings is locked in a legal battle with minister Ntshavheni over the broadcasting digital migration project. The high court is set to high eMedia’s arguments on 8 March.
In an interview last October, eMedia CEO Khalik Sherrif told TechCentral that the shortest possible time in which the digital migration project could be completed without causing serious harm to the broadcasting sector was 15 months.
Anything less, he said, would harm e.tv and other broadcasters and would flout provisions of the constitution dealing with the broadcasting sector.
E.tv is not the only broadcaster that continues to use analogue transmission, either. Community television stations, including Cape Town TV, Soweto TV, TBN and several others are also still using analogue transmitters, the department of communications spokesman confirmed. – © 2022 NewsCentral Media