According to a treaty South Africa agreed to with the International Telecommunications Union, we are committed to switching off our analogue television broadcasts by 2015, and start broadcasting via digital signals instead. It sounds simple enough. It also does not sound particularly exciting, does it?
It is only when you start getting into the details, and take stock of what needs to be done to make this happen, that the magnitude of the entire project becomes apparent.
On the upside, the advantages to undertaking this digital migration could be vast. Where we currently have access to four free-to-air television stations (SABC and e.tv) the switch over to the digital multiplexing system will mean that the SABC could have access to enough spectrum to broadcast between 10-12 channels instead of its current three. So, we could be looking at a lot more free-to-air channels to choose from. That's a good thing, especially for the swathes of South Africans who cannot afford the subscription television services of DStv or TopTV. There are other advantages: because there will be more space on the "airwaves" it opens opportunities for new entrants, so if all goes well we may even see additional broadcasters starting up, and hopefully the encouragement of the community television sector.
Daily Maverick The Daily Maverick is a unique blend of news, information, analysis and opinion delivered from a newsroom in Johannesburg, South Africa by the old Maverick editorial team of Branko Brkic, Kevin Bloom, Phillip de Wet and Ivo Vegter, as well as Stephen Grootes, Brooks Spector, Tim Cohen, Theresa Mallinson, Sipho Hlongwane and Mandy de Waal. First Thing is its morning newsletter which tells you what happened while you were sleeping, gives you a heads-up on what will happen during the rest of the day and gives you links to selected articles on the site, just in case you missed them. Follow The Daily Maverick on Twitter at @dailymaverick. Go to: http://www.thedailymaverick.co.za
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