SA digital TV announcement welcomed

2011-01-14 15:33

Cape Town - The DA has welcomed the announcement by Communications Minister Roy Padayachie that SA will adopt the DVB-T2 standard for digital migration.

"This announcement has ended several months of speculation and uncertainty in the broadcasting industry, following the former minister Siphiwe Nyanda's sudden U-turn last year on the already gazetted policy position on the adoption of the DVB-T standard," party MP Natasha Michael said in a statement.

Initially the government had accepted DVB, but now the country would adopt DVB-T2. Padayachie said the government had looked at representations from the Brazilian government.

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

At a 2006 conference in Geneva, where the International Telecommunication Union Region 1 Geneva ITU GE06 Agreement was signed, a 2015 deadline for the migration from analogue to digital television was set.

'Full potential'

"We trust that this decision will restore confidence in the department of communications following the disastrous tenure of Nyanda," Michael said.

The party believed it was "of utmost importance" that SA modernised both its broadcasting and telecommunications sector, in line with international best practice.

"If the field of communications is developed to its full potential, it has great potential to enhance educational, business and other life opportunities, as well as creating employment. DVB-T is considered the most advanced digital terrestrial migration system and most widely adopted across the world," she said.

Adopting its successor, DVB-T2, would revolutionise South Africa's broadcasting industry and create employment.

Michael said it was concerning that Padayachie had pushed back the date for the switchover from analogue to digital television from November 2011 to December 2012.

The DA intended asking parliamentary questions to determine the reasons for the delay and the associated costs.

Padayachie said the new standard would ensure clearer and crisper television images and there could be 14 public broadcast channels. It would also open the opportunity for community or regional television.

Awareness programme

Sentech chief executive officer Setumo Mohapi said the signal distributor for the South African broadcasting sector would be able to provide 60% of the population with a digital signal by the end of the year.

Deputy Communications Minister Obed Bapela said an awareness programme informing viewers of the new standard and how it will affect them would be launched in the near future.

Padayachie said currently the government was still deciding how the "poorest of the poorest", who could not afford to purchase a new digital television or a set-top box, would receive subsidies for the set top boxes.

"We have to equip these families who have analogue television sets with the means to watch digital television," he said.

"One of the major benefits of this digital migration could be a catalyst for content development. Are we going to develop this content ourselves or are we going to import it?" said Communications acting Director General Dr Harold Weso.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's chair Stephen Mncube welcomed the announcement, as did e.tv's chief operating officer Bronwyn Keene-Young.

"e.tv believes that the DVB family of standards offer the most effective basis for the delivery of digital terrestrial television in South Africa.

"E.tv and M-Net started T2 trial broadcasts in Soweto in September. This trial has shown that viewers are excited about the additional number of channels, as well as the improved picture quality," she said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    da  |  e.tv  |  roy padayachie  |  tv
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