Digital TV for South Africa to launch in September

Rebecca Hawkes | 25-03-2012

Digital television transmissions (DTT) in South Africa will begin in September 2012, Minister of Communications Dina Pule has promised, following earlier delays to the country's timetable for migration.

Pule's predecessor Roy Padayachee had previously committed to switch on DTT this April.

Speaking at The New Age business briefing on 22 March, Pule said the government will provide a 70% subsidy for the poor to acquire digital set top boxes, in order to receive digital TV transmissions when the analogue signals are switched off.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has established 2015 as the deadline for the migration from analogue transmission worldwide.

The South African government has adopted a strategy to enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country to benefit from the DTT switchover, with electronic manufacturing employment opportunities expanding as a result of the demand for set top boxes.

"We'll bring the old players and new together. We are not going to allow people to bring in gadgets from outside the country. If we grow the local electronics industry it means the prices will go down," Pule is quoted as saying in The New Age.

Keith Thabo, chair of the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronic Components (Namec) welcomed her commitment. Namec is calling for 60% of the budget to be spent on SMEs.

"The collaborations are welcome and will be key to development. We'll use the established infrastructure from the big players as incubation hubs for the SMEs," he said.

A budget of R 2.4 billion has been approved by the government for digital TV migration, however Pule confirmed there is a R1.7 billion shortfall in funds to achieve full roll out.

"We have engaged with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and discussed the issues around the shortfall. The government is committed to this project," she said.