The lapsing of a tender for government-subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) for digital terrestrial television (DTT) is “disappointing”, the South African Communications Forum (SACF) told journalists on Tuesday, 21 January 2014.
The SACF, which said it represents the broad views 30 members, 6 of which are STB manufacturers, feels that those that participated in the previous tender should be considered when the new request for proposal (RFP) is issued.
Government’s set-top box is an integral part of the plan to migrate South Africa from its existing analogue terrestrial television broadcasts to DTT.
These decoder-like STBs will be required to receive the new digital TV signal, as the analogue tuners built into the TVs on sale in South Africa are not able to handle the digital TV standard initially.
A state-sponsored STB was therefore included in the initial migration plan to help ensure that the poorest South Africans are still able to receive a TV signal when the old analogue broadcasts are switched off.
Delays in the award of the contract for these government STBs could therefore cause further setbacks to South Africa’s migration to digital broadcasting, the SACF said.
However, if things go perfectly the SACF said that the Ministry of Communications could finalise the new Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy, reissue the RFP, have it adjudicated quickly and award the contract by April 2014.
It would then be possible to officially launch DTT in South Africa by June or July 2014, the SACF said.
The SACF said that it continues to hope that these processes will flow swiftly enough to enable South Africa to meet its undertaking to the ITU to switch off analogue TV by 17 June 2015.