South Africa: Company warns on irrelevance of DTT should further migration delays occur

Regulation & Policy

Digital terrestrial television (DTT) was likely to become irrelevant should South Africa’s migration from analogue to digital broadcasting signal not be accelerated with urgency, investment holding company Kagiso Media warned on Wednesday.

Speaking at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) hearings on the Draft Diversity and Competition in DTT regulations, the company said that, as satellite pay television (TV) gained traction in the broadcasting industry, digital take-up could fail, as demand for terrestrial digital signal faltered.

Kagiso cited the market's growing preference for high-definition (HD) satellite pay TV services with several channel offerings, over analogue standard definition free-to-air broadcasting with limited channels.

DTT, if the spectrum was allocated efficiently, would enable the free-to-air and pay TV terrestrial broadcasters to offer significantly more channels, some of which could be in HD.

However, several roadblocks have hampered the country’s digital ambitions since 2006.

The continued delay prevented broadcasters from offering a multichannel bouquet, which would enable them to increase advertising revenue and broaden their audience, free-to-air broadcaster noted.

Kagiso commented that “there is a real danger of DTT failing if delayed any longer, as satellite [broadcasting] takes over”.

There were no clear digital switch-on and signalling dual-illumination dates, the emerging broadcaster said, adding that the country was years behind other countries, including some African countries.

Concerns had emerged that the migration would only reach completion by 2020, instead of the 2015 deadline promised by the Department of Communications (DoC), with Kagiso citing the “difficulty” of undertaking the project within two years.

Kagiso expected the licensing of new broadcasting entrants on the DTT multiplex 3 to be finalised before June 2015.
 The group said the licensing process should not be another factor weighing on digital migration.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn in Engineering News