SABC ‘threatened by analogue switch-off’

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South Africa has started switching off analogue signals. The country’s Free State region has been the first to move its transmissions over to Digital Terrestrial TV, with all analogue signals planned to cease in July 2020.

However, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, speaking on March 14th, warned that the complete transition to all-digital broadcasting could harm – and even “destroy” the country’s public broadcaster SABC.

To date, some one million local households, out of 4.7 million, have registered to receive a subsidy to cover the cost of a set-top box plus installation and aerials. As of February 28th, a total of 507 000 households had been connected to the digital signal.

Ndabeni-Abrahams told the committee that while government would like to conclude the switch-off process, unsubsidised households will not have access to set-top boxes because they are not available in the retail market. Only satellite products such as DStv are available.

“If the unsubsidised market, which is bigger [than the subsidised market] goes for satellite, it means we are destroying [transmission company] Sentech and the SABC, which is not on the satellite platform,” Ndabeni-Abrahams told the committee.


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