SA will miss 2015 digital TV deadline

South Africa will miss the 2015 deadline to convert its analog broadcasting signal to digital, according to Sunday’s Rapport newspaper.

The delay will mean that analog television will use up bandwidth which is necessary for faster internet.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has said that after June 2015 countries will no longer be protected against disruptions of the radio waves that are used for analog television broadcasts.

The original plan had been to make the switch from the analog to the digital signal by 2008.

A communications department official told Rapport that the government would have to negotiate with the ITU to protect its analog broadcast network after the 2015 deadline.

“There is not enough time left. All we can do now is to extend the cut-off date,” assistant director for information and communication technology, Themba Phiri, told Rapport.

DoC Team - Rosey Sekese, Dina Pule, Themba Phiri
Dina Pule flanked by Rosey Sekese (left) and Themba Phiri (right)

The switch from analog to digital requires that the government distribute between five and seven million decoders to poor households. It was estimated it would cost R4.5 billion to subsidise five million decoders.

Another problem was that the department had insisted that the decoders be manufactured locally.

Dina Pule digital TV
Dina Pule digital TV

A further hurdle was that Communications Minister Dina Pule and e.tv were involved in a legal battle to determine who should be in charge of the decoders and the technology used to convert digital television signals.

Two weeks ago Pule indicated she would appeal a court ruling that she acted improperly in putting state-owned broadcasting company Sentech in charge of this.

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SA will miss 2015 digital TV deadline