Digital migration tops minister’s agenda

Newly appointed Communications Minister Dina Pule has set her energy on ensuring that South Africa meets its digital broadcasting obligations in the next three years, despite funding challenges to the get the project finalised.

SA needs to migrate from analogue to digital by 2015 as the outdated analogue TV signal will no longer be supported internationally after this date.

Speaking to BuaNews on Friday, Pule, who was among the new ministers announced by President Jacob Zuma last week, said she will be meeting with stakeholders in the broadcasting industry, including the SABC, to ensure that all the work concerning the migration is speeded up.

Sentech is also in discussions with government to provide further funding options, which will be required to complete the digitisation roll-out.

“It’s a huge responsibility I must say, but what is important for me is that I must start to familiarise myself as to where we are and how can we move with greater speed because this is an important task for the country and we all have to make sure that it is undertaken,” said Pule.

“I am also going to meet with the former minister (Roy Padayachie) to get a briefing from him on this important matter. Starting from there will help me get a view as to where I am headed,” added Pule.

Under the Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) regulations, the SABC could receive between four and 13 new channels, depending on the technology used.

Independent station e.tv has been allocated 60% of the second multiplex. M-Net will receive 50% of a third multiplex to be reserved for pay-TV use, subject to it switching all its consumers from analogue to digital decoders within a year.

Pule is not new in the department having served as Deputy Minister of Communications before she moved to the Presidency last year.

“I will therefore use my experience in the ministry to ensure that nothing stalls and that we move with speedy in our quest to turn the ITC industry around,” she said.

Pule also congratulated her new Deputy, Stella Ndabeni.

The 34-year-old was sworn into office by Gauteng Judge President Bernard Ngoepe at a ceremony attended by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on Friday afternoon.

Ndabeni was out of the country when the other new ministers and deputy ministers were sworn in earlier this week. She was a Member of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications.

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Digital migration tops minister’s agenda