Invasion of the set-top boxes!

2013-09-01 14:00

South African TV is migrating to digital technology and our broadcasters are finally entering a new era.

The old analogue systems took up vast amounts of space on the frequency spectrum. The new digital ones are compressed.

The upshot is huge – there will be more space to broadcast more TV.

It means that over the next few months and years, South African viewers will be offered dozens and dozens of new, free channels.

Except they aren’t actually free. In order to receive your new channels, you’ll have to buy a decoder, or set-top box.

And not just one. No, as things stand now, you’ll have to buy several. Sure, there are behind-the-scenes deals being made on sharing boxes.

Sure, if you already have a satellite dish installed, your costs could be halved.

Your new SABC, and M-Net service (DTT) will cost you about R600.

The poorest 5 million South Africans will have theirs subsidised by 70%.

It will be a one-off payment and you will get many more channels to watch as well.

If you want even more, like 24-hour SABC news, there’s another one-off payment (Freevision) of R1?200.

If you live in an area without signal, you’ll have to pay up if you want to watch.

Your new – plus 20-odd new channels (Openview) – will cost a one-off R1?800.

Sure, a lot of this is also going to be available on DStv, which you will pay for monthly.

Plus there’s pay channel TopTV, which is not as dead in the water as you think, as they are looking for new partnerships.

And there’s also another new pay TV service coming. Pitches were heard at the start of August.

What we don’t know is exactly what the content of all these new channels will be.

What we do know is that as consumers we will have a lot more choices.

If we can afford the boxes.

Too much choice

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