South Africa begins analogue TV switch-off

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021 
Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies logo

Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on phased switch-off of analogue television

  • Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams and Broadcasters begin Switch-Off of Analogue TV Transmitters

The Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies, together with broadcasters, have started with the phased switch-off of analogue television transmitters in the Free State. This comes at the back of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement during the State of the Nation Address last month that the phased switch-off of analogue TV transmitters would begin this month.

It is anticipated that this process, which will be done province-by-province, will be completed by the end of March 2022. On Monday the analogue signal was switched off in Boesmanskop and surrounding towns in the Xhariep District Municipality. This will be followed by Ladybrand and surrounding towns on Tuesday.

The switch-off in each province will be systematic and in phases, moving from one analogue transmitter coverage area to the other, until all district municipalities within the province are completed .The department is collaborating with provincial governments and district municipalities to recruit local installers of government-subsided decoders in order to accelerate the implementation of the broadcasting digital migration.

The switch-off of analogue television transmitters process currently underway comes at the back of a reviewed implementation process initiated by Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, with the ultimate aim to eliminate inefficiencies and bottlenecks. As part of the review, the department has since also roped in signal distributor Sentech, an entity within the portfolio of the department, to assist with the management of decoder installations.

“As it is in the interest of the country that the broadcasting digital migration is completed to free up much-needed spectrum, we are redoubling our efforts to accelerate the project,” said Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams.

The release of spectrum will greatly improve connectivity within South Africa and spur the digitalization of economic activities. “We have adopted an inclusive approach to educate the public about the digital migration project and the options available to consumers, including those television viewing households that do not qualify for the government-subsidised set-top-boxes,” added Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams.

The government has committed to subsidise indigent households with a combined household income of less than R3200 per month. Decoders are required to convert analogue signal to digital television services. It is estimated that there are more than three million households who are still on the analogue television platform.

Television viewing households that do not qualify for fully-subsidised government decoders – in other words, those that have a monthly income above the stipulated threshold of R3200 – have an option of buying new integrated digital television (IDTV) sets that have the DTT decoding capability built-in. Further, existing commercial satellite decoders are also considered suitable as a migration alternative to subsidized decoders and IDTVs, providing more choices to the consumers.

Local television manufacturers have made these IDTV sets and more variety of decoder products available through major retail outlets across the country. This came after engagement between Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams and local television sets manufactures.

Notes

Project timeline estimations for the phased switch-off of analogue TV transmitters by province. Further granular details will be made available as we progress with the planning and implementation:

Free State: March, 2021
Northern Cape: April, 2021
North West: May, 2021
Mpumalanga: May, 2021
Eastern Cape: May, 2021
Kwa-Zulu Natal: July, 2021
Western Cape: November , 2021
Limpopo: December, 2021
Gauteng: January, 2022

Links: Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies