No green light for digital TV

Seniors have applied for subsidised digital television but have received no feedback

Nine months after they registered for subsidised digital television – including 15 channels – Mitchell’s Plain seniors are disappointed that nothing further has happened.

The initiative is being undertaken by the South African Post Office and the Department of Communication (DoC).

Digital television uses digital instead of analogue signals – the current system used in South Africa – and delivers a better image and sound.

It also uses less bandwidth, so 15 channels can be broadcast on the system that allowed only one analogue channel.

It does not cause interference with other systems either.

It has already been implemented in the Northern Cape where analogue television signals caused interference with the satellite array of telescopes.

Una Davids, from Beacon Valley, said they stood in long queues in October last year to make their applications.

“We called the number on the poster. First the number does not work and no one at the post office, where we registered can give us feedback,” she said.

“We are also worried that our information was captured but don’t know what is happening,” Ms Davids added.

South African Post Office spokesman, Johan Kruger, said by May, 2 920 households in Mitchell’s Plain had registered for the decoder, called a set-top box (STB) and antenna.

He said the DoC, which was overseeing the project, had not yet given the green light for issuing and installing the set-top boxes.

“That is because kits are installed first in areas that border on other countries, such as the Free State (which) borders with Lesotho.

“Our analogue television signals may cause interference in neighbouring countries,” he explained.

He said government would subsidise households that depend on social grants and those with a monthly income of less than
R3 200.

They must also have a functioning television set and a television licence.

Households must register at their nearest post office in order to qualify for the STB subsidy. They also need to submit proof of identity, address and state their household income.

They also have to confirm that they have a working television set.

A set-top box kit will later be installed at qualifying households.

The DoC hopes that the official switch-over from analogue to digital will take place in June next year.

The purpose of the project is to allow all South Africans to continue watching television even after the country has switched to digital television broadcasts.

The signals are broadcast from towers and not from a satellite orbiting the earth and will not have any effect on satellite subscribers.