South Africa’s communications minister, Faith Muthambi has said in an official statement that the government has decided to abandon the digital migration project.
The move, described by local press as “shocking”, has completely caught the broadcasting industry off guard, and they had been working to a mid-year analogue switch off.
“Seeing that none of our neighbouring countries has switched over to digital television, we have taken a decision to ignore the 17 June 2015 ITU deadline and remain with analogue television for the foreseeable future,” Muthambi said. “The government will save billions that can be used in better ways, like funding [public broadcaster] SABC.”
The upside for South Africa’s cash-strapped government is that they no longer need to subsidise set-top boxes for the nation’s poorest citizens.
This is also a loss for Nagra Kudelski which had won the contract to encrypt and protect transmissions for Sentech, the official transmission company.
“This solves the debate — there won’t be any set-top boxes and so there is no need for encryption,” she added.