Analogue switch off looms, villagers fear being left without access to information

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The Communications Department plans to switch to Digital Terrestrial Television on the 30th of September. But many communities in the rural Eastern Cape remain clueless about the migration processes, from analogue to digital.

Thousands of impoverished households still depend on analogue. Few households have been fitted with DTT decoders. Some of the deserving people were just handed set top boxes that were never installed.

In the small village of KwaZulu-Natal in Ntabankulu, network connectivity is a major challenge.
Half of the population are benefitting from digital terrestrial television, but very few households have successfully installed set top boxes.

“I am happy. In fact, I am blessed because I am among the first few that benefitted from the set top boxes. Yes, there was a problem with the network but that was sorted out. My television set is now clear and audible. I thank the government for making sure that we have access to clear tv sets,” says villager Mamthimkhulu Nyikinya

Many rural and illiterate people do not have information about access to these set top boxes. If the deadline for switching off analogue is met, countless people will have no access to information, as most of them rely on SABC 1 for indigenous language news bulletins.

“This decoder is not working. It is not scanning, so we have decided to oly use the ariel so that we can have the channels on analogue. So we are still waiting for the installers to come and sort out the set top box,” says another villager Nomalizo Gcaba.

Early this year, Communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni launched the installation of set top boxes for a few households in Ntabankulu. However, they encountered internet connectivity problems.

She assured the communities that the application for, and installation of set top boxes would continue, even after the cut-off date.

“We commit to say we will not leave any village, any households. It does not matter which valley we have to cross, we are going to cross it to make sure that people are connected. Those who apply and we will continue to reach out to those who have not yet applied even after the cut-off date,” says Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

New application date extended to 30 September 2022: 7July 2022