Figures released by South Africa’s National Treasury suggest that the country’s postponed migration to digital TV is continuing to cost hundreds of millions of Rand.
The migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television featured prominently in the Budget Vote for Communications following the release of South Africa’s medium-term budget policy statement.
It was highlighted that R620 million (€43.2m) would be used to support the digital migration programme. Of that, R551 million has been allocated to the Universal Services and Access Fund to cover the costs of the broadcast digital migration project. An additional R69 million has been allocated to broadcast transmission provider Sentech to cover the dual illumination costs relating to the project.
Compared to the first six months of 2013/14, expenditure over the same period in 2014/15 decreased by R135.914 million, or 13.5 per cent.
“This was mainly due to the decrease in expenditure on goods and services as the digital terrestrial television awareness campaign has been put on hold, while the ICT review process will be completed later in the year,” the Vote stated.
The shadow minister of telecommunications and postal services, Marian Shinn, described the increased funding as great news, noting that it more than doubled the amount approved.
“The major benefit of the transition to digital broadcasting is that it frees up the analogue bandwidth for assigning spectrum for broadband throughout South Africa. This will be a great economic boost to service providers with Internet products and services to sell and for e-Government services to be delivered to even the most remote areas of the country,” she suggested.