South African television is due to change over from analogue to digital as from April next year. This will mean that all existing viewers with the old bunny ears aerials will no longer be able to get television once the switch off happens. At present this will be rolled out over different areas, slowly so as to encounter and fix any problems that may occur.
In order to be able to get the digital, free to air television signal, the viewer will have to purchase a set top box (stb), this will cost in the region of R400 – R700 as a once off fee, the viewer will possibly even have to purchase a new aerial and the television license will still need to be paid over and above this once off fee. Government is looking into setting up a Scheme to Ownership Support (SOS) for the poor who will struggle to pay this amount. At this time no subsidised amount has been settled on.
Both SABC and E-TV are busy rolling out additional digital TV channels in addition to their existing channels so that they will have fuller bouquets to offer their viewers. SABC is looking to add health, education and 24 hour news to their offering. Hopefully these new channels will be completed in time for the April 2012 deadline as otherwise this deadline for the crossover may need to be extended.
Hopefully in the very near future we will be joining the other countries who have successfully crossed over to digital TV.