HDTV channel to be ready for 2010 - minister

Sentech intends to launch at least one high-definition television (HDTV) satellite channel in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said on Thursday.

Sentech would also build a second teleport to provide additional capacity needed for the 2010 satellite uplink requirement, she told MPs in the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote.

Sentech was on schedule to meet government's commitment of providing about 80 percent digital terrestrial television (DTT) coverage by 2010.

The SABC planned to have six more high definition units in place by the end of 2009, also in line with the technology plan for 2010.

Matsepe-Casaburri said the digital signal would be switched on on November 1, 2008, and the analogue signal should be switched off on the same date in 2011.

A body to oversee the roll-out of digital migration in South Africa had been established - the Digital Dzonga (South) - chaired by Lara Kantor.

There would be "set top boxes" to give all people access to digital signals using their analogue TVs.

"South Africa will begin growing set top box manufacturing capability, and create jobs also in the installation, maintenance and repair of these."

It would also allow for expanding job creation through call centres, she said.

"New TV channels that will be available as a result of broadcasting digital migration will require us to develop local content that is relevant to and appropriate to our needs and national identity and social cohesion.

"Therefore the development of creative industries is most likely to be seen burgeoning.

"New industries, such as animation, will flourish. Already our own Magic Cellar children's programme has found resonance in the United States where HBO has already indicated interest," she said. - Sapa

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