European model for digital TV despite protest

2011-01-15 11:35

South Africa will adopt the European digital television standard DVB-T2 and will complete the process of migrating from analogue to digital television by December next year, Communications Minister Radhakrishna Padayachie said on Friday.

The decision ends weeks of speculation as to which digital standard the country would adopt for broadcasting. The government had planned to switch off analogue broadcasts in November this year.

Under consideration were Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB) and ISDB-T, supported by Brazil and Japan, and the two Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) terrestrial standards, DVB-T and its successor, DVB-T2.

Initially the government had accepted DVB but now the country is set to adopt DVB-T2.

Padayachie said the government had looked at representations from the Brazilian government.

Twelve of the 14 SADC countries have accepted DVB, the main digital standard in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

At a 2006 conference in Geneva, where the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Region 1 Geneva ITU GE06 Agreement was signed, a 2015 deadline for migration was set.

Padayachie said the decision had been taken by the government and not by his department alone.

He hoped the decision would lead to more opportunities in manufacturing in the industry.

“We think this is an important ­decision that will make an important contribution in that arena.”

There was no indication how much the roll-out of the DVB-T2 standard would cost. “There will be a cost but the benefits will outweigh the cost,” said Padayachie, who would not commit to saying how much new set top boxes would cost.

The National Association of Manufacturers in Electronics Components (Namec) has said the decision did not take into account the ­economic benefits of choosing the Brazil and Japan standards.

Namec’s stance is that DVB-T2 will only benefit local broadcasters e.tv and M-Net and decoder manufacturers Altech and Reunert, all of which have been involved in extensive digital terrestrial television trials using DVB-T2 and its forerunner, DVB-T.

 – Sapa and own correspondent

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