The Northern Cape is the latest province to fully migrate to digital terrestrial. The province’s 48th analog signal was switched off in Upington on Friday by the Minister of Communications and digital technologies, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

Northern Cape is the second province to go digital after the Free State.

Ntshavheni says the switch from analog to digital migration is well underway and they will now be moving to the North West.

She says more than 30 000 applications for set-top boxes have been received this month alone and her department is on track.

“We have a process of registration and there are people who are registering. To date, we have registered 1 228 million people and with that number we know we are going to connect all of them because we can only connect those who apply,  if you do not apply at your nearest post office or online we cannot assist you. We can only assist those who raise their hands.”

Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni officially switched off the last analog transmitter in Northern Cape: 

More than 500 000 households countrywide have been successfully migrated to digital transmission.

Free State and Northern Cape Regional Operations Manager for the SABC, Mandla Mbusi says they are not expecting any blackouts following the switching off of analog transmitters. He says this will be for the benefit of all stakeholders involved.

“I think our clients, our stakeholders who have been trusting the brand of SABC, who have been advertising with us, they are going to have maximum millage in terms of their advertising. They are no longer going to be featured on three channels. They are going to feature on seven or more because this new technology is going to increase and take more channels. So, it’s going to benefit the SABC, the client, and the listeners as well at home.”

Migration to digital transmission: 

Improved picture quality, more channels, and the freeing up of the spectrum are among the advantages of digital migration.

Indigent households with no existing digital satellites are expected to apply at the post office for the government-sponsored set-top boxes. This is to ensure that they migrate smoothly from analog to digital transmission.

Minister Ntshavheni says, “The issue of blackout is literally not going to happen in South Africa because South Africans have migrated. Fewer houses that we are going to install and that is why the program is even moving faster.”

Mixed emotions

Residents in and around Upington have on the other hand expressed mixed emotions over the digital migration and the installation of set-top boxes stating that they waited for far too long while some are excited.

“The channels are free and it is much better for the kids and us young people because we can watch more channels. Our channels are free already,” says one of the residents.

Another resident says; “I feel unfortunate because I watch television every day. The first year when this came out I went to the Upington post office and I applied. They said they will call but never made contact with me. They took my numbers and they never called me back. I don’t know what’s happening.”

‘Migration not smooth’

For this 68-year-old, the migration to digital was not smooth. Following the switch-off, her only four channels ceased to play. She insists that she followed all the procedures.

Resident Sneyers Stein says, “I went to Upington post office and I applied there. They took my contact details but they have never called me back. We went there again with the forms so I don’t know what is happening.”

For some residents, however, it was a good day.

A resident Cheslin Klaaste says, “The channels are free and it is much better for the future for us as young people.”

At least 40% of SABC analog transmissions have been switched off. All 84 multichoice analog transmissions have also been switched off and only 4% of ETV transmissions are switched off.

SABC Board Chairperson, Bongumusa Makhathini says, “We cannot afford to lose any viewers but we fully support this process because it will enable the SABC to operate in a multi-channel and a multi-platform world and help us to fulfill our mandate fully and comprehensively.”

Government is confident that they will meet the March 2022 deadline for the country to fully be on Digital Terrestrial Television.