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A new minister, but the same rhetoric

New Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said last week[1] that her department will speed up South Africa’s digital migration process, and it will be completed before December 2018. “I am happy to say that significant progress has been made in the implementation of digital terrestrial television,” said Dlodlo. If it was not for the fact that we have heard the same thing for a decade, we could nearly get excited about the latest comments.

If you have not followed the digital migration mess over the last 10 years, here is a quick refresher:

  • June 2008 – Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said the broadcasting digital migration is on track, and ahead of most countries in the world.
  • October 2009 – Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda said the government is on track to reach full digital migration by November 2011.
  • October 2010 – Nyanda said South Africa will begin migrating to digital television broadcasting in 2011.
  • September 2011 – Communications Minister Roy Padayachee said South Africa was on track for digital migration.
  • May 2012 – Communications Minister Dina Pule told members of Parliament that the switch to digital television broadcasting is on track.
  • August 2015 – Communications Minister Faith Muthambi assures Parliament that the migration programme is on track.
  • September 2016 – Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said the broadcasting digital migration project is well on track.
  • May 2017 – Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said significant progress has been made in the implementation of digital terrestrial television.

As you can see, we have been told for over a decade that the digital migration process is “on track”. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the timeline below shows.

  • 2001 – The Minister appoints the Digital Broadcasting Advisory Board (DBAB). The DBAB investigates the various digital terrestrial television standards.
  • 2004 – Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said they will pilot a policy framework for the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.
  • 2006 – Matsepe-Casaburri said the digital migration strategy is one of their priority areas of work that will be concluded later that year.
  • 2006 – South Africa committed to meet an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deadline to switch to digital terrestrial television on 17 June 2015.
  • 2007 – Cabinet approves the digital signal be switched on from 1 November 2008.

    The analogue signal should be switched off in November 2011.

  • 2009 – Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda said significant progress has been made to meet the November 2011 deadline.
  • 2010 – Trouble starts as the deadline approaches: Nyanda disbands the Digital Dzonga due to potential conflict of interest.
  • 2011 – The analogue signal switch-off deadline of November 2011 is missed. December 2013 is the new analogue switch-off date.
  • 2013 – The December 2013 analogue switch-off date is missed. The 17 June 2015 ITU agreement is now the new deadline.
  • 2015 – On 17 June 2015, South Africa failed to meet the ITU deadline.
  • 2016 – There is no clear guidance on when the analogue signal should be switched off.

    The government will announce the date once all systems are in place.

  • 2017 – The Minister promises that her department will speed up South Africa’s digital migration process, and it will be completed before December 2018.

Please forgive me minister, I want to believe you, but I am not overly confident that your department will achieve the deadline – a deadline that not a single one of your predecessors met.

Now read: Analogue TV switch-off date will be set when everything is ready: Minister[2]

References

  1. ^ Ayanda Dlodlo said last week (www.fin24.com)
  2. ^ Analogue TV switch-off date will be set when everything is ready: Minister (mybroadband.co.za)

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