South Africa announces DTT STB subsidy plans

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
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In a speech at South Africa’s National Summit on Set Top Boxes (STB) Manufacturing, Deputy Communications Minister Dina Pule gave an update on the progress of the country’s digital TV migration plan.

  • The Policy provides for a three year dual illumination period with the switch-on of the digital signal being on 1st November 2008 and switch-off on 1st November 2011 of the analogue signal. Post the 2011 switch off of the analogue signal, the public will be able to continue to receive television reception through Set Top Boxes or TV sets equipment to receive digital signals. Digital signal switched-on on 30 October 2008. SABC, eTV and Mnet are running pilots currently.
  • In order to achieve the migration targets set for the country, the policy proposes that options of STB Scheme-for-Ownership-Support, STB SOS, to assist the poor TV households be explored. In addition the technical features of the Set Top Box are such that they enable the Set Top Boxes to be considered as tools for e-government delivery thus narrowing the digital divide. Cabinet has approved that 5 million poor TV households be subsidized. An amount equaling R400 million (50 million USD) has been allocated in this regard.
  • The STBs for free-to-air services will have standardized operating systems prioritizing security features, interoperability, addressability and inter-connectability. In addition to facilitating e-government, these features enable disconnection of stolen boxes and reduce the possibility of an influx of boxes not manufactured or approved in South Africa from flooding the market. The South African Bureau of Standards is at final stages to gazette the South African DTT Standard.
  • The policy proposes that the public broadcaster, on its own or in partnership, cater for three public regional television channels as well as channels prioritising education, health, youth, SMME, interactive services, as well as Parliamentary and government information and services needs. In addition, regional television services will be required to provide an open window for community television services.
  • Developing the South African electronics and local content industries

    The policy advocates the need for the development of a South African electronics industry as part of contributing to job creation as well as to South Africa’s global excellence in the manufacturing of Set Top Boxes. In addition, and, as part of developing the Creative Industries, the creation of Digital Content Generation Hubs aimed at generating local content for digital broadcasting is planned.

  • Rolling out the Digital Terrestrial Television transmission infrastructure

    The national coverage of the digital broadcasting signal shall be achieved in a phased manner. Although, the DoC’s targeted aim to cover 50% of the population by the end of the 2008/09 financial year, only 33% is anticipated to be covered during this phase. It is projected that we would cover the balance of the population by 2010/11 enabling analogue switch-off. Areas that are difficult to reach will be covered by satellite means.

  • Implementing the migration to digital

    A digital migration office referred to as Digital Dzonga has been established to oversee the implementation of the Policy in South Africa. 12 Digital Dzonga Council members appointed by the Minister in 2008.

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