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'Unsubsidised households must purchase set-top boxes out of their own pocket'

29 November 2021 8:54 AM
Tags:
Digital terrestrial TV
Digital TV
Analogue TV
set-top boxes

John Maytham speaks to Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, the IT in Government Editor at IT Web.
  • For those termed the 'missing middle' there are limited affordable options to migrate from analogue to digital TV by the switch-over deadline agrees IT in Government editor
  • Simnikiwe Mzekandaba says the cheapest current option is the Open View HD set-top box which is a once-off payment with no monthly subscription fees
  • A government-produced set-top box is needed to supply those who do not fall into the subsided category but can still not afford smart TVs or commercial decoders she agrees
  • The contract for such boxes to be manufactured was only put out to tender in June 2021

© Saksan Maneechay/123rf.com

The last site in the Northern Cape to still have analogue television broadcasts had their signal turned off on Friday as part of the much-delayed migration to a fully-digital television service in South Africa.

You will have been hearing and seeing adverts calling for all those who qualify for subsidised digital set-top boxes to apply for them at the South African Post Office, but what about the non-subsidised units for those who do not qualify in that category?

RELATED: Will your old analogue TV still work after March 2022 digital switchover?

The migration of South Africa's television system from analogue to digital has been taking place at a frighteningly slow pace, and set-top boxes of the non-subsidised kind just don't seem to be available to the general public.

John Maytham speaks to Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, the IT in Government Editor at IT Web.

Currently government does not have subsided set-top boxes in the retail market but there are other commercial products that meet the requirements for migration from analogue to digital.

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in Government Editor - IT Web

Commercial options include the normal DStv decoder, OpenView HD, and StarSat decoder, she says.

But alternatively, households can also purchase what is referred to as a digital TV and the department has said this digital TV has to be the one that has the gold digital sign.

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in Government Editor - IT Web

Unsubsidised households have to purchase one of these set-top boxes out of their own pocket.

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in Government Editor - IT Web

John Maytham acknowledges that digital smart televisions have come down i price since first being introduced to the market.

But they are still not something that people who are just above the line below which you can get a subsided set-top box and there is a significant percentage of SouthAfricans who are not going to be able to afford them - so there is still a need for something that can receive a digital signal on an analogue TV.

John Maytham, Presenter - CapeTalk

Mzekandaba agrees and suggests the cheapest option for what is referred to as the 'missing middle' who cannot afford smart TVs or digital decoder subscriptions, would be the Open View HD set-top box as it is a once-off payment for the satellite dish and installment without further monthly subscription fees.

That is the discussion being had by organsations such as the SOS Coalition who say these households referred to as the missing middle cannot afford either a digital TV or these decoders, so government has to step up and produce these decoders and find a manufacturer for government-subsided set-top boxes - and that process from the last time I checked is still in the pipeline.

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in Government Editor - IT Web

John Maytham expressed his bewilderment saying the country was supposed to digitally migrate in 2005!

I know, but they only put out a tender for a manufacturer of these set-top boxes in June this year so we don't know if this tender has been awarded to a specific manufacturer. I feel this would be the most affordable option for those who fall outside of the government prescribed R3.500 earning criteria.

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in Government Editor - IT Web



29 November 2021 8:54 AM
Tags:
Digital terrestrial TV
Digital TV
Analogue TV
set-top boxes

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