Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has established a Digital Migration Advisory Council, which consists of representatives from broadcasters, telecommunication companies, relevant government departments and State-owned entities.
“This council is advising me on the initiatives we need to implement in order to fast track the Broadcasting Digital Migration project,” Minister Dlodlo said on Thursday.
She said the council is working around the clock to develop a project plan towards the December 2018 deadline.
In March 2015, Cabinet approved the final amendments to the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy, which paved the way for the implementation of digital migration.
She said Cabinet further approved that government should provide free set-top boxes to the five million poor TV-owning households.
“Once the migration process is complete, South Africans will have access to [digital terrestrial television]. The migration will release valuable spectrum, which will allow for more channels and more content to be broadcast in the same bandwidth as is currently used by one analogue channel,” Minister Dlodlo said.
She said the availability of more television channels will lead to more demand for local content which will translate to growth for the local content industry.
“This will also spur industry growth and lead to job creation. Furthermore, it will result in better quality sound on both radio and visuals on television,” Minister Dlodlo said.
She said the country needs a public awareness campaign for South Africans about digital migration.
“It is important for South Africans to understand that those who already have [digital satellite television] and OVHD [OpenView HD] are already migrated to digital.
“There is also a considerable number of people who already have Integrated Digital Televisions sets (IDTVs), who only need to connect to digital television without needing a set-top box,” Minister Dlodlo said.
According to the Minister, her department has maintained a clean audit for the second consecutive year, while the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) achieved a clean audit for the fourth consecutive year.
With regards to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board, she said she is expecting feedback from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) on the process of the verification of qualifications for all the candidates submitted for the President’s approval.
“Once received, the information will be handed to the Presidency for processing, which should allow the President to effectively exercise his discretion.
“I must also indicate that the operations at the SABC are continuing without hindrance and any matter that requires the attention of the Board shall be dealt with in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) which empowers the Chief Executive to act as an accounting officer in the absence of a Board,” Minister Dlodlo said.
She said expediting the process of filling vacant executive management posts and sorting out the labour relations issues that stifle delivery, as well as contribute negatively to staff morale remains a priority.
“On the financial viability of the institution, I am pleased to report that we have presented a fresh proposal to National Treasury and are now awaiting a response in this regard. Much more work lies ahead in the journey of recovery at the SABC but with greater cooperation and stakeholder support, we will surely achieve the stability and viability of this entity,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za