Thursday, May 17, 2018

The parastatal signal distributor, Sentech, wasting R150 million per year due to the South African government's failure to switch to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

The state-owned broadcasting signal distributor, Sentech, that relays TV broadcasters' signals in South Africa, loses R150 million per year due to the government's incompetence and delays in the far-behind process of switching from analogue to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

While Sentech is burning through hundreds of millions of rand every year in waste due to the drawn-out switch, a process known as digital migration, Sentech is owed millions of rands by the struggling public broadcaster, SABC.

Siyabonga Cwele, the minister for telecommunications and postal services, speaking at a press conference before his department's budget vote speech in parliament, revealed that Sentech is wasting R150 million per year.

South Africa is years behind in the DTT switch and missed the globally imposed deadline to finish the switch from analogue to digital broadcasting by June 2015. The government is also on track to miss the latest imposed deadline to complete the process by June 2019.

"The delay in digital terrestrial television migration is costing Sentech about R150 per annum in dual illumination," said Siyabonga Cwele said.

So-called "dual illumination" is where an analogue and a digital version of the same signal from the same broadcaster is being relayed,for instance the existing analogue broadcast version of SABC1, as well as a broadcast version of SABC1 for digital reception.

"We need to finalise the digital migration next year in order to release spectrum to telecommunications network providers as directed by the International Telecommunications Union," he said.