The South African Department of Communications (DOC) has finally pulled a rabbit out of its hat after the switch-over to digital television broadcasting infrastructure has been delayed on several occasions. Judging from its “Go Digital” campaign that’s in full swing during 2012, South Africans should soon benefit from DDT (Digital Terrestrial) television signals. The DOC’s pamphlet states that the roll-out is to start early this year (2012) and that by 2015, “almost 11 million TV viewers” should have access to DDT in their homes.
Should this be the case, and the DOC and its partners do not board star ship Enterprise, to “boldly go where no-one has gone before”, a clearer, sharper and more enjoyable television picture (and hopefully, content) will be on offer for all. Thus, according to the marketing material there will be:
- More channels, thus more choices for viewers.
- “Equal access to every citizen” to all free-to-air channels of “good quality picture and sound”
- Electronic Programming Guide and program synopsis.
- Better control by parents over what is to be watched or not in the household
- More accessibility for those with hearing and sight disabilities
Although the DDT is long overdue in South Africa, compared to the rest of the digital world, two issues still chafe. The first is the “set-top” boxes which must be purchased in order to enable “old” (Analogue) television sets to convert and display the signal. This conversion will result in a loss of quality of both picture and sound. In talks about the “set-top” box this does not seem to be worth mentioning. Perhaps the idea of it being a “digital signal” seems to negate the need to explain this fact. In addition, the cost of these boxes seem to still be “in flux”.
Receiving a good quality digital signal with your current “bunny ears” is another issue that’s not made very clear. Mention is made that “some viewers may require new TV aerials or adjust their existing aerials for reception”, giving the impression that you will still be able to use it. But, alarm bells have sounded about this being an additional cost for consumers. If, however, you are one of the lucky few to have a television set with a built-in digital receiver and a “dish” hooked up already, the switch-over will be quite painless.