Digital migration is set to revolutionise broadcasting and SOS Coalition members have noted the benefits but also the challenges of this move. While new channels also mean more consumer choice, there are the associated costs of infrastructure, set-top boxes and generating content to consider, particularly as revenue will be spread more thinly across channels.
Minister of Communications, Ms. Faith Muthambi has still to announce the “switch on” date for the digital signal.
This period between “switch-on” and “switch-off” is known as the “dual illumination period”. Broadcasters will need to broadcast their programming both on an analogue signal and a digital signal. At the end of the “dual illumination” period, the analogue signal will be switched off and only the digital signal will remain. In order for people to be able to receive the digital signal they will need to purchase set top boxes (decoders).
Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy and new Digital Terrestrial Television Regulations
Issues still on the agenda
The issues that still need to be attended to include:
- Goverment’s DTT governance stucture needs to be urgently set up and resourced;
- Sentech’s transmission network needs to be finalised;
- Government’s strategy for supporting the manufacturing of set top boxes needs to be urgently finalised;
- The subsidy model for the set top boxes needs to be urgently finalised
- New digital and local content needs to be generated and government’s strategy and support for this needs to be finalised.
Digital Dividend issues
The digital dividend is the spare frequency capacity that will be freed up when broadcasters move from analogue to digital.) SOS and civil society bodies need to develop positions on how this frequency capacity should be used. SOS and civil society bodies need to develop positions on how this frequency capacity should be used. ICASA_discussion_document_on_review_of_regulation_of_SA_local_content_-_questions_for_consideration_SOS_and_SASFED
The SABC and its new digital channels
The SABC has been promised up to 18 new channels including a 24 hour news channel and 24 hour sports channel. The SABC has not as yet released any concrete plans as regards these channels. SOS has put in a formal PAIA request asking details about the SABC’s proposed channels.