South Africa: Country Migrates to Digital Broadcasting with SABC launching two new channels

Technology & Convergence

As of tomorrow, Saturday 1 November 2008, South Africa will enter a new era of broadcasting, when the country officially converts its television broadcasting signals from analogue to digital.

Minister of communications Dr Ivy Matsepe Cassaburi officially launched the digital broadcasting signal at the World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly at Emperor's Palace, Johannesburg on 30 October 2008.

During the official launch, two new SABC channels were also showcased - SABC Entertainment and SABC International News.

The migration will allow for the release of valuable spectra which can then be used for other services. The public broadcaster estimates that up to eight new channels can be launched using the same bandwidth as one analogue channel. The minister also said that "the migration is the biggest in recent times, as well as in the region, and that Kenya has also committed to a 2012 deadline. Other countries have will be committing to dates soon."

She further said that Cabinet has approved sufficient radio frequency spectra, which is freed up by the digital migration process. "Through [this], they would be able to provide new television channels and specialised television services dedicated to education, health, youth [and] sport, as well as three regional service channels."

"The department will have a Scheme-for-Ownership-Support of Set Top Boxes for the poor, which will help increase universal service and access to such services by vulnerable communities and individuals," she said.

"The migration to digital process is expected to take a minimum of three years. Viewers will still be in a position to receive the current analogue services of SABC1, 2 and 3 and and M-Net," said acting SABC CEO Gab Mampone.

Biz-Community (Cape Town) 31 October 2008