Digital TV will be a success, and timelines for the project will be met. That is the word from the communications department, which is in charge of making sure that the big switch from analogue to digital broadcasting happens by 2011, writes Jocelyn Newmarch in Business Day.


“There are no signs to suggest that we will not be ready by 2011. One of our goals is to speed up uptake and use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) among South Africans,” department spokesman Joe Makhafola said.

“Digital television applications have an important role to reach especially rural regions effectively for interactive solutions. It is in the interests of both government and its citizens that we accelerate uptake and use of ICTs,” he said.

From November, broadcasters will start transmitting a digital signal, on a trial basis, in addition to the analogue signal which most households receive.

Set-top boxes, which will allow households with analogue TVs to receive a digital signal, need to be developed and rolled out by November 1 2011, when the analogue signal will be switched off.

Media commentators have expressed concern that the three years allowed by the government will not be long enough for all 7-million households to receive the boxes.

Of these households, about 5-million will need a government subsidy, which would cover up to 70% of the cost of a R700 box. Many of these households are in deep rural areas, worsening the logistical difficulty.

Makhafola defended the digital migration timelines, saying that the government had committed itself to “business unusual” in service delivery “so that the lives of our people should change for the better, sooner rather than later”.

Click here to read the full report, posted on Business Day's website.