Free State will be first to switch over to digital terrestrial TV - Mokonyane

The Free State will be the first province to switch over from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT). 

The switch is expected to be completed by December 2018. 

"As you will hear shortly, the Free State will be the first province to be switched off [from analogue]," Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane announced in Tshwane on Friday during a media briefing on the broadcasting digital migration process.

"This decision was based on the immense support the project continues to receive from the leadership, both at provincial and local levels.

"Next week, the provincial government of the Free State is hosting a joint DTT colloquium with the Department (of Communications) and other stakeholders, so as to galvanise the province and unlock the opportunities within the project to benefit the people of the province.  

"The presence of the Free State Premier, Mme Sisi Ntombela, underlines the degree to which the province has embraced this project. We are therefore grateful to the premier, executive and the people of the Free State for their support."

Ntombela, who was also at the media briefing, said that they were ready and excited to be the first province to migrate. 

Mokonyane said the Northern Cape was expected to be the second province to be switched over to digital. She added that, based on the activities plan and the resources available, the migration from analogue to digital would be completed by July 2020. 

READ: Communications department needs R6.6bn to complete digital migration by 2019 deadline

"This is no easy project, as lessons from other parts of the world can attest," she said. 

"It requires all the stakeholders working together, and the media, in particular, informing the public. We still have lot of miles to cover. But with all of your continued support, we will pull it through.

"The time of talking is over. Let's get on with this project and deliver it on behalf of the country and its citizens. The road to South Africa being a global leader in ICT starts with the DTT project."

News24 previously reported that South Africa had missed multiple DTT deadlines, since the switch was planned in 2008, due to corruption, in-fighting between stakeholders, constant changes on broadcast standards and conflict regarding conditional access and encryption system issues.

In June 2015, the country missed the deadline set by the International Telecommunication Union for completion of the process. It is unlikely that the council will meet its 2019 deadline.

The DTT delivery model is under review to expedite analogue switch-off. Analogue viewers are those without a satellite dish or a decoder.

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