You could be forking out R800 to switch from analogue to digital TV

The Department of Communications has revealed that it will cost South African households R800 to make the long (and derailed) move to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) — which refers to the migration from analogue TV to digital TV.

Households without DStv‚ M-Net‚ StarSat or OpenView HD will be compelled to pay R800 for a decoder known as a set-top box (STB) and an antenna in order to be able to continue watching free-to-air channels such as SABC‚ and community TV stations.

The STB decodes the digital signal received via a standard aerial antenna and supplies the TV set with a video signal.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi said in parliament that — despite minor challenges and the fact that SA missed its deadline of June 2015 to roll out DTT — digital migration is well on its way.

“The DTT project is being rolled out despite minor challenges. Challenges relate to lack of funding for a public awareness campaign‚ dual illumination [and] the establishment of a contact centre.”

But how does the process work? And will poor households receive a subsidy to able to keep watching free TV?

Here are 5 things you need to know about the switch to digital:

1) While the government plans to give away 5.2 million STBs to poor households‚ many others will have to pay a once-off cost to purchase an STB. There will be no monthly subscription cost to receive the Free-to Air (FTA) services offered by SABC and other FTA broadcasters. However‚you will still have to continue paying your TV license.

2) Viewers will require a wide band UHF (Ultra High Frequency) aerial to receive the DTT transmissions. The aerial currently used to receive SABC1‚ 2 & 3 will not work as these are VHF (Very High Frequency) aerials.

3) You don’t have to buy a new television set. The STB is designed to receive the digital television signal and convert it to an analogue signal that will work with your existing analogue TV.

4) What if you have DStv? DStv is a satellite service. The satellite signal is different from the DTT signal and the two systems are not compatible. DStv subscribers will continue to receive certain free-to-air channels. However‚ if you wish to receive all the DTT free-to-air services you will have to purchase a DTT set-top box.

5) The launch date for this project has not been confirmed yet. The digital network will be rolled out over a period of three years. Therefore‚ you will need to check when the digital signal will be available in your specific area. Information will be made available on exact areas of coverage and when these will be covered closer to the time of the public launch of the service.


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