DIGITAL MIGRATION AFFORDS LOCAL PRODUCERS PLATFORMS
Written by: Xolisani Khumalo
South Africa is due to join the rest of the world in digital migration in 2017. This will be done to ensure co-ordination and protection from signal interference.
Digital migration means that the country will be moving from analogue television, to digital television and this is called Digital Terrestrial Television/ Transmission (DTT).
DTT essentially means that signals can be compressed, which would allow for more channels to be broadcast in the same bandwidth as would have on just one analogue channel. The advantages of this migration are access to free air services in addition to the ones the state already has, and a better picture and sound quality. Channels that were not already on high definition will have transmission of high definition pictures.
The DTT services are accessible through set-boxes that will be distributed by government via municipalities in all the different areas of South Africa. These set-boxes are designed to retrieve the digital signals and have the capability to convert an analogue signal to a digital signal for users that still have analogue televisions. The television sets only need to have audio and video inputs or a Radio Frequency modulator (RF) input.
Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi and her team began the registration for set-boxes as of October 2015, in the Northern Cape Square Kilometre Array (SKA) area.
She then explained the advantages of registering for set-boxes in a radio interview.
“You will have clear quality pictures then your eyes won’t have problems anymore and you will hear clear quality sound,” said Muthambi at a conference in the Northern Cape in October last year.
DTT will allow local producers and filmmakers an even greater platform of showcasing their programs as DTT translates to more channels, specifically local channels.
“With this digital migration that we are talking about we will see a lot of local content from people from this district, it’s our duty as government to ensure that our people enjoy broadcast services without any interruption,” added Muthambi.
The SABC intends to make available a range of new public services, which include interactive and information services as well as access to all SABC Radio Services anywhere in the country.
In 2006, Africa, Middle East, Europe and Islamic Republic of Iran firmly determined to migrate from analogue to DTT. As one of the signatories to this treaty, South Africa missed the deadline which was June 2015. Missing the deadline meant that the analogue broadcasting services are not protected from interference from other countries.
Terrestrial television uses a network of transmission towers to relay the signal across the country. Each transmission tower has a specific area of coverage, and it is the network of coverage that provides television signals across the country. The broadcast signal is sent to the various towers and if you are within the area covered by a tower, then you will be able to receive the broadcast services via a terrestrial aerial, which is usually placed on your roof or on your television set, depending on how strong the signal that you are receiving is.
Online channels such as AzaTV, a content sharing and a free to air video on demand platform, do not see the migration as a threat or something that would affect them negatively.
AzaTV houses originally produced content and are similar to what digital migration is about, which is supporting local producers and promoting local content.
“Digital Migration affects the terrestrial broadcasters more than it does online platforms. But it remains to be seen how the spectrum being opened up will affect channels such as ourselves,” Sorele Media (AzaTv) spokesperson told Journalismiziko.
According to a statement that was put out by the SABC all terrestrial broadcasters need to migrate their services onto digital. With the main affected broadcasters being the SABC, eTV, DSTV’s MNet and regional and community television stations. The broadcasters will then be responsible for launching or establishing new services and migrating the services that already exist.
*Caption: Anologue tv’s are not excluded from the migration