SABC warns viewers of impending analogue switch-off

The SABC has started to warn viewers who access its free-to-air channels via analogue signals to register for a digital decoder to continue receiving television broadcasts.

A scrolling message shown on SABC 1, SABC 2, and SABC 3 states the following:

Important notice: If you see this message go to your nearest Post Office to register for a free government subsidised decoder or call 0860 736 832 to continue receiving a television broadcast. 

The message will only appear on analogue television platforms and not on any of the SABC’s digital platforms – such as its DTT, DTH, DSTV, OVHD and OTT platforms.

The SABC said the main purpose of this message was to alert the public about the impending analogue switch off and the need to change to alternative digital technologies for television viewing.

“This is in keeping with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement during this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), wherein he stated that all analogue transmissions will be switched off by April 2022,” the broadcaster stated.

“The SABC will endeavour to keep the public informed as and when new developments occur,” it added.

Timeline for switch-off

In March 2021, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies announced that, together with broadcasters, it had started with the phased switch-off of analogue television transmitters in the country.

At the time, the department said the process would be completed by the end of March 2022.

The switch-offs would be done on a province-by-province basis, starting with the Free State in March 2021 and the Northern Cape in April 2021.

“The switch-off in each province will be systematic and in phases, moving from one analogue transmitter coverage area to the other, until all district municipalities within the province are completed,” the department said.

The following provinces are scheduled to have their analogue transmitters switched off in the coming months:

  • North West – May 2021
  • Mpumalanga – May 2021
  • Eastern Cape – May 2021
  • Kwa-Zulu Natal – July 2021
  • Western Cape – November 2021
  • Limpopo – December 2021
  • Gauteng – January 2022

The switch-off comes after repeated delays over the last two decades pushed South Africa from possibly being a global digital migration pioneer, to missing deadlines set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and falling behind the rest of the world’s progress in modernising television broadcasting.

The frequency spectrum which will be opened up as a result of the migration will be critical in growing broadband connectivity in South Africa and delivering more affordable data to mobile network customers.

Now read: When you can cancel your TV licence – and how to do it

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SABC warns viewers of impending analogue switch-off