South Africa sets new DSO date
December 12, 2022
By Chris Forrester
South Africa is again attempting to switch off its analogue TV broadcasts. The nation’s Minister of Communications Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has set March 31st 2023 as the new date to end analogue transmissions. The date is eight years beyond the ITU’s required end of analogue broadcasts.
However, this is not the first time that a switch-off date has been set – and ignored. Last year a similar switch-off date was subject to intense legal actions ending up in South Africa’s Constitutional Court.
The Minister stated on December 9th that the government had done enough to ensure that there were enough digital set-top boxes distributed, and still available to poorer households, to allow the switch-off to happen.
Ms Ntshavheni, in her statement on the progress of digital set-top box distribution and availability, said that between April and September 2022 the number of homes registered to receive boxes was 201, 828 and she stressed that this showed there were not “millions” of homes left behind without equipment. She said she was confident that any missing homes would be supplied during the next 3 months.
A closure date for new applications had been set as September 30th 2022, and widely publicised on public broadcast TV and radio channel and social media.
She added that as at November 30th 2022 there were still 185,362 outstanding installations to complete and that the government, though local install teams, were handling 49,417 (on average) installs per month.
The Minster said that analogue switch off needed to happen so that the government’s licensed operators of 4G and 5G services could deploy their networks, and that tests could take place to reduce cross-interference of TV and cellular signals.
However, previous switch-off dates have resulted in legal challenges from existing broadcasters. A comment from one broadcaster, eTV, said that it was alarming how out of touch the government was with reality on the ground. eTV stated: “We have provided research to the minister on what is really happening on the ground, and that has been ignored.”