In 2006, the South African government accepted the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) agreement that called for countries to migrate from analogue Television to Digital Television by June 2015.
The purpose of the mandate known as the Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) process was to improve the quality of TV services and maximise the efficient use of the spectrum.
The South African government initially set the deadline to complete the migration process by 2011, however, this never happened as the programme suffered setback after setback during the technology negotiations process.
On March 18, 2015, South Africa started the process of migrating broadcasting signals from analogue to digital.
However, recently Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Khumbudzo Ntshavheni indicated that the television broadcast digital migration process is set to meet the 31 March 2022 deadline that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his State of the Nation Address earlier this year.
To assist the masses, the government says it will run an Analogue Switch-off message that will scroll on analogue TVs with dates to ensure that the population is aware and migrates before the set dates to continue receiving television services.
Why a Digital Migration?
Digital Migration by SABC Digital News
Ntshavheni said, “It is important for South Africa to switch off [analogue] because of one, our commitment to the ITU but if we do not switch off the ITU will switch us off, which will mean that things will be disruptive because we will not have control of the process.”
She added: “The switch to digital terrestrial television allows the country to move into the digital age and get the much-needed spectrum. You will recall now with the experience that we have had with the COVID-19 pandemic, how spectrum has come into being a major player.”
The Minister said 1.1 million households out of 3.7 million have been registered for the digital migration process. She says the government migrated 556 954 beneficiary households from the current total of 1.184 million, adding that almost 10.5 million households out of just over 14 million have self-migrated through private satellite boxes.
Government clarifies the switch from analogue to digital:
TIMELINE: DIGITAL MIGRATION