Usaasa sets out set-top box subsidy plan

Technology & Convergence

The Universal Service & Access Agency of South Africa (Usaasa), the government agency tasked with bridging South Africa’s digital divide, has provided details of those who will qualify for a subsidy when buying a set-top box for watching digital terrestrial television.

The subsidies proposed range from 66% for households with no income to 15% for those earning up to R2 499/month, according to Democratic Alliance MP Marian Shinn, who has had sight of the Usaasa document, which is entitled “Qualifying Criteria for the Set-Top Box Scheme of Ownership and Support”.

In areas needing satellite transmission — in other words, those outside the digital terrestrial coverage areas — the subsidy ranges from 77% for no-or-low income households to 29% for those with an income up to R3 200/month, according to Shinn.

Subsidies will apply only to valid TV licence holders, including concessionary TV licence holders. Those seeking the subsidy must provide proof of ownership of an operational TV set and proof of household income or dependency on social grants.

The deadline for comments on the criteria is 26 November.

Shinn says the publication of the qualifying criteria – which could apply to as many as 5m households – must be welcomed. But she says the deadline of mid-June 2015, agreed to the International Telecommunication Union, will not be met. And she is concerned that an ongoing turf war between the department of telecommunications and postal services and the department of communications could still lead to further delays to digital migration.

Source:  – © 2014 NewsCentral Media  30 October 2014