Despite South Africa’s missing the deadline to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting by Wednesday, South Africans would still be able to watch free-to-air television, the communications ministry said.
“Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi is confident that South African television viewers will not face broadcasting disruptions after the June 17, 2015, when the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) ceases to protect analogue users from signal interference,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.
South Africa agreed in 2006, along with over 100 other countries in the ITU, to switch from analogue to digital television broadcasting by Wednesday.
It has still not completed making, or begun distributing the set-top boxes required to decode the digital signals to about 15 million households. Cabinet approved the migration policy on March 6 this year.
According to the department, the most immediate television signal interference threat would come from outside South Africa’s borders. To reduce the risk of this happening, Muthambi had signed agreements of co-operation with Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. Namibia and Zimbabwe were finalising their agreements with South Africa.
There would thus be no “major negative impact on their analogue television services”.
Digital migration was still a “top priority” for the department, as it was important for clearing the spectrum for the delivery of broadband services.
“The digital migration project management office is hard at work to ensure that set-top boxes are manufactured and delivered to complete the migration process.”