Pretoria – Residents of the small agricultural town of Ladybrand in the Free State will on Friday have an opportunity to learn and understand the importance of switching from analogue to digital broadcasting.
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi will visit the town situated 18km from Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, as part of government’s broadcasting digital migration public awareness campaign.
“As government, we are using digital migration to radically transform TV viewing of the poorest of the poor, hence we’ve prioritised all the border-lying areas, including Ladybrand, to be the first ones to benefit from the government’s free set top-boxes (STBs) that we are already distributing to TV-owning poor households.
“We are doing all this because digital migration pictures a future in which the democratic role of the media, freedom of expression and democratic participation will be enhanced. During our campaign on Friday, we will afford residents an opportunity to ask questions about the significance of digital migration and its benefits,” the Minister said.
The need for digital migration derives from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Geneva 2006 resolution, where South Africa and other countries in Europe and the Middle East – including the Islamic Republic of Iran – and Africa committed to migrate their broadcasting services from analogue to digital by 17 June 2015.
However, South Africa missed the ITU deadline in June 2015. The Minister immediately initiated a process of signing bilateral engagements with five neighbouring countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique and Namibia) to mitigate cross-border radio frequency spectrum interference while South Africa steadily makes progress in converting from analogue to digital.
On 28 October 2016, South Africans celebrated a significant milestone when Minister Muthambi officially turned off the analogue system in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) area in the Northern Cape.
“The analogue switch off in the SKA area signalled a mammoth change in the broadcasting space in our country,” said Minister Muthambi.
The main reason for the migration is to release valuable spectrum, which can be used for other services. Spectrum is scarce and it is therefore necessary to make efficient use of the spectrum available for more telecommunications and broadcasting services.
To qualify for the government-subsidised decoders‚ households must earn less than R3 200 per month. Digital migration will see TV viewers even in Ladybrand enjoying quality picture and sound.