South Africa’s Televisionator speaks, as Digital TV deadline missed

South Africa will miss the 2015 deadline to convert its analogue broadcasting signal to digital, according to a report in Sunday’s Rapport newspaper. The delay will mean that analogue 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 analogue television broadcasts.

The original plan had been to make the switch from the analogue 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 analogue 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 communications technology, Themba Phiri, told the newspaper.

The switch from analogue to digital requires that the government distribute between 5m and 7m decoders to poor households. It was estimated it would cost R4,5bn to subsidise 5m decoders.

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

A further hurdle was that communications minister Dina Pule and 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. — Sapa

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