Cabinet has adopted the European second-generation digital video broadcasting terrestrial (DVB-T2) technology standard for use in the country as it migrates from analogue to digital television (TV), Communications Minister Roy Padayachie announced on Friday.
He also said that the date for completion of the switchover to digital broadcasting would be delayed to December 2013, from the original target of November 2011.
“We have set a new timetable by which we will complete digital migration,” Padayachie stated, adding that the existing Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy of 2008 would be revised to meet the new time frame.
Padayachie emphasised that the South African government also hoped to use the digital migration process as a catalyst to revitalise the electronics manufacturing industry.
He noted concerns from organisations within the sector, and reiterated that the department would work with all industry stakeholders to ensure a successful migration to digital broadcasting.
The manufacture of set-top boxes (STBs), which would be required in households using older analogue TVs, presented an opportunity for local manufacturers, not only in South Africa, but also in the rest of Africa.
The DVB-T2 standard has officially been accepted by 12 African countries.
“I think there are tremendous export opportunities. I don’t think we have lost too much,” said Padayachie, referring to the fact that the government initially accepted the DVBT standard, but later decided to review the decision and test the ISDB-T standard, which is used in South America.
“There would certainly be export opportunities, we must make sure that the quality is good, we must make sure that made in South Africa is respected on the continent, and that the countries that we are talking about will have an affinity for a South African product,” the Minister reiterated.
The cost implications of the decision to adopt DVB-T2, which was more advanced than the previously selected standard, were yet to be fully assessed.
Signal distributer Sentech, for example, had already started with the process of digital migration in 2006, in line with the original DVBT technology standard.