Mondli Gungubele, South Africa’s new minister of communications, reported to parliament on the nation’s intentions for digital broadcasting. The new date is that analogue frequencies must be vacated by July 31st and ready for digital transmissions as well as an ending of any remaining dual illumination by the end of 2024.
The new date seems likely to be met. One major objector giving up its frequencies is e.TV, a broadcaster with a vast audience for its free-to-view channel.
According to the Ministry, all analogue broadcasters using bands over 694MHz must give up such frequencies by July 31st. These are the frequency ranges that the communications regulator ICASA already assigned to mobile operators at the spectrum auction last year. As the spectrum is still being used for analogue TV, the operators have yet to be able to fully employ it.
The minister said broadcasters using bandwidth above 694MHz must move to lower frequencies by July 31st. All remaining analogue broadcasting services can temporarily be accommodated in lower frequencies, meaning South Africans still reliant on analogue broadcasts may need to retune their TVs to continue receiving some channels from August 1st. Both the SABC and e.tv will have to change the frequencies of some of their transmissions.
Dual illumination must end by December 31st 2024. The original date for the ending of analogue TV was December 2010, and South Africa still needs to catch many ‘obligation’ dates, including the ITU’s June 2015.