South Africa: Digital Broadcasting Consumer Guidelines Adopted

Technology & Convergence

SADC Member States have adopted guidelines to cushion consumers from the impact of the planned migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The SADC Guidelines on Consumer Protection and Awareness on Digital Broadcasting Migration were adopted by the 7th SADC Digital Broadcasting Migration Forum held in Kasane, Botswana in June.

"The Forum adopted the SADC Guidelines on Consumer Protection and Awareness on Digital Broadcasting Migration, and Member States are encouraged to implement the Guidelines with immediate effect," the forum said.

The guidelines will enable governments to cushion consumers from the effects of the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting and outline measures to be taken by Member States to raise awareness about the migration.

The measures to cushion consumers include subsidies for purchasing digital receivers.

The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) is leading other African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in terms of progress towards meeting the global deadline for the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.

Two SADC Member States - Mauritius and the United Republic of Tanzania - were the first African countries to migrate to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

Mauritius was the first African nation to fully digitise television broadcasting for all regions and islands in 2007.

The country initiated its migration process in 2005 with a "soft launch" of its first digital services offering six free-to-air channels.

Two digital channels were launched in 2008 to speed up consumer purchases of digital TV sets and the appropriate Set-Top Boxes (STBs). Full analogue switch-off was completed in December 2013.

Tanzania completed the migration at the end of 2012 and immediately commenced a staggered programme of switching off analogue broadcasting in December in an exercise that has so far seen six of its regions now accessing DTT services.

These are Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Arusha.

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Source: Southern African News Features (Harare), 1 July 2014