Saturday, January 22

Minister insists that digital migration is on the right track


The migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television is on the right track, as a total of 572,255 households benefiting from subsidized set-top boxes have migrated from the current total of 1,228,879, Communications Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said.

His comments, at a press conference on Wednesday, come despite litigation that could derail the process.

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The minister said on Wednesday that the government concluded the analog blackout in the Free State at the end of last month without any television blackout. Ella, the last active analog transmitter in the Northern Cape, in Upington, will be turned off this Friday.

“We are also on track to complete North West according to plan,” he said.

Broadcast signal distributor Sentech has turned off all 84 MultiChoice analog transmitters, 113 of the 288 (40%) of the SABC transmitters, and four of the 95 (4%) used by e.tv.

“Last month it was also used to increase the capacity of installers according to the integrated model managed according to the approved plan. Sentech installer capacity has been created for the remaining provinces, and this will intensify installations in the coming months in all remaining provinces, ”said Ntshavheni.

“I have established a project steering committee that is comprised of key stakeholders, and we continue to meet to review project progress and resolve issues escalated by the project’s structure of operations.

“The analog disconnect program has been adequately endowed with human capacity and funding, and governance structures continue to drive implementation according to the approved plan,” he said.

Accelerating the process

Despite this optimistic assessment, the project could still go off the rails. Broadcast industry insiders contacted by TechCentral say privately that the minister is speeding up the process and trying to meet the March 2022 deadline for nationwide analog shutdown that is not feasible. President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to meet this deadline in his state of the nation address earlier this year.

eMedia Holdings, the parent company of e.tv and Openview, has gone to court to argue that the March deadline cannot be imposed on the industry. Last month, Ntshavheni published a timeline for digital migration, according to which all nine provinces will have finished analog broadcasts by January 31, 2022.

But eMedia CEO Khalik Sherrif, speaking to TechCentral in an interview last month, said the shortest possible time in which the project could be completed without causing serious damage to the broadcasting sector was 15 months. Anything less, he said, would harm e.tv and other broadcasters and violate the provisions of the constitution dealing with the broadcasting sector.

“It cannot be done in the time that they propose (the government). It absolutely can’t be done, ”Sherrif said.

Duncan McLeod is an editor at TechCentral, where this article was first published. here.

(c) 2021 NewsCentral Media, with additional reports from SANews


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