As part of the National Treasury and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statements for 2016, the Department of Communications’ adjusted estimates of national expenditure has been released.
The document contains a section on “mid-year performance status”, which details the progress the department has made in meeting targets it has set (measured for the six months April-September).
One section of the report details the number of “digital broadcasting awareness campaigns hosted” per year.
The department had a target of 10, and has far exceeded it – holding 25 awareness campaigns.
“In the first six months, the Industry and Capacity Development programme has exceeded the annual target of hosting digital broadcasting awareness campaigns,” stated the report.
“The overachievement of 25 campaigns was mainly due to the door-to-door engagements conducted for the registrations and preparations for the signal switch-off in Northern Cape.”
Deadline after deadline missed
While the department’s awareness campaign efforts are commendable, it failed to mention that the subject of its work – digital TV broadcasting and the digital migration plan – has been an unmitigated disaster.
South Africa’s cabinet originally approved the digital switch on for 1 November 2008, and the analogue signal switch off for November 2011. The 2011 switch-off deadline was missed.
South Africa then agreed to meet an ITU deadline for the switching off of analogue TV of June 2015. The 2015 deadline was missed.
As it stands, the final switch-off date of analogue TV is not certain – with valuable high-demand spectrum being held hostage in the process.
Parliament, the DA, and industry stakeholders have criticised Communications Minister Faith Muthambi for the government’s poor execution of the digital migration plan.