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South Africa to switch off analogue signals to households across the country from March 31

Bunny aerials will become museum pieces when SA switches to digital technology on March 31. Picture: Supplied

Bunny aerials will become museum pieces when SA switches to digital technology on March 31. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 26, 2022

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Johannesburg - Youmay have received an SMS (or five) containing words like “migrate”, “analogue”, “digital”, and “deadline”, and like most, you probably swiped it away immediately without giving it a second thought.

You may have even seen headlines with those exact words, and perhaps the newsreader mentioned them on the 8pm news that was playing in the background while you ate your dinner.

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The problem with thinking that things don’t directly affect us, is that sometimes they do.

In his State of the Nation address earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that on March 31, SA will switch off the analogue signal that transmits TV audio and video images to households across the country.

If you’re receiving television services directly from an aerial or antenna on your roof, or on a pole outside your home, and do not have a set-top box or smart TV, you’ll no longer have television signal, come month-end.

But if you receive images via satellite, you will not be affected and your television life will continue as normal.

In order to continue your normal viewing, households who fall in the former category will have to acquire a set-up box to convert from analogue to digital.

Jaco Joubert, the brand manager for Skyworth, which owns the Sinotec name, said It was in 2006 when South Africa acceded to the International Telecommunications Union Regional Agreement in Geneva determining countries must migrate from Analogue Television to Digital TV by June 17, 2015.

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The Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) migration process is a global technology enhancement initiative that aims to leapfrog countries into digital domains, targeting to improve quality of services and enable efficient use of spectrum resources.

In SA, the date came and went with little progress being made.

“The move from analogue to digital is a long time coming, 16 years long, to be exact,” Joubert said.

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“Thankfully, when it comes to Skyworth televisions, consumers needn’t worry about the switch over from analogue to digital and how this may affect them. Living up to our ‘Lead the future’ motto, all our TVs are digital with built-in digital tuners and are able to receive digital signal,.

Spokesperson for the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT), Tlangelani Manganyi said the set-up boxes were free to households with an income of R3 500.00 or less.

“The applicant must have a South African Identity document and proof of income/affidavit and proof of residence. The government set-top-boxes are free from any monetary constraints. They are government subsidised, also the installation is free,” she said.

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Manganyi said DCDT has been running a campaign since 2011 to call all qualifying persons to apply for the switch-off. All areas in the country have digital transmitters to provide coverage.

Joubert described the migration to digital as “positive” with benefits that included improved:

* Quality (digital TV pictures are clearer).

* Free-to-air services (South Africans will now be able to receive 12 TV channels compared to the four on analogue – SABC 1, 2, 3 and eTV).

* Pay and subscription services (South Africans will receive 14 TV channels on paid for digital, compared to the two channels on analogue pay TV- M-Net and CSN).

Joubert warned that geography might play a role and that households in rural areas could be affected more than those in metropolitan areas.

Households can apply for the free set-up boxes at their nearest post office or at www.stbregistration.gov.za.

The Saturday Star

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