Sentech, the state-owned company that carries radio and television signals for SA's terrestrial broadcasters, is likely to miss its first looming deadline for migrating to digital TV, writes Stephan Hofstatter in Business Day.

Sound and image quality will also improve.

Sentech spokeswoman Polly Modiko told Business Day that by the end of the financial year, "Sentech will only achieve population coverage of 40%," — 12% less than it promised Parliament last year.

Its commitment to achieving 80% coverage by 2010 to be ready for analogue switch-off in 2011 is therefore also in jeopardy.

The embattled parastatal blames treasury and the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) for failing to come to the party. This year treasury allocated only R150m instead of R262,4m Sentech said it needed to meet its 52% coverage target by March 1.

Sentech told Parliament last month it needed R955m in capital costs and R917m for dual illumination over the three-year transition period. It was allocated only R650m for capex and nothing for dual illumination.

The R1,2bn shortfall will balloon if the rand weakens, as it has done since initial calculations were made, because most digital migration equipment is imported.

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