South Africa started its tortuously slow road to analogue switch off on February 1st by starting digital broadcasting transmissions.
Faith Muthambi the country’s communications minister described the start of digital broadcasting as truly exciting. “The picture is now coming together; from gazetting the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy on the 18th of March 2015, to the first installation of set-top-boxes on December 17th 2015 in the Northern Cape,” she added.
She also stressed that there is a definitive end to analogue broadcasting now in sight. An initial marketing push in the Northern Cape region is now seeing about 250 registrations of interest from members of the public per day, says the Ministry.
However, the official date (last June 2015) for all-digital broadcasting has been well and truly missed, and not helped by the lack of set-top boxes and any sort of serious marketing. The original switchover was – according to the nation’s official “Go Digital” campaign – due to be completed for 75 per cent of the population by 2011. (The Ministry of Communications official – and ‘live’ web-site – covering digital migration has not been updated since February 2010).
South Africa is committed to helping poorer households make the conversion by supplying 5 million subsidised receiver boxes to pick up the digital terrestrial transmissions.
There is no official end-date for the digital migration process, other than a commitment to wrap the process in the “next 18-24 months”.