Saturday (21 November) was World Television Day, commemortating the date on which the first World Television Forum was held and recognising the pivotal tole that television plays in addressing issues that affect people globally.
South Africa’s migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television will put the country on par with world-class digital television standards and will go a long way towards bridging the digital divide.
Television was first introduced in South Africa in 1976, and the country was among the last of the economically-advanced countries on the continent to introduce television broadcasting to its people. South African television was the second terrestrial television service in Africa to launch with a colour service on its inception.
World Television Day is a day to reinforce governments’ commitment and support to the development of television media and in providing unbiased information about important issues and events that affect society. Television is one of the most influential and crucial mediums for the promotion of cultural diversity, building national identity, social cohesion and for political and economic development.
South Africa will soon be migrating from analogue to digital television broadcasting. The Broadcasting Digital Migration process is focussed on transforming television broadcasting services for the people of South Africa. Millions of South Africans across the country are set to reap the benefits of digital terrestrial television.
“For a period of around three years, both analogue and digital signals will be transmitted while South Africa moves from an analogue terrestrial television signal to a full digital broadcasting platform. More people in more places than ever before are now going to be able to experience the high quality, enhanced content and interactive viewing experience associated with digital television,” says Lara Kantor, chairman of the Digital Dzonga, the advisory Council appointed by the Department of Communications to oversee the country’s transition from analogue to digital television.
Kantor says viewers will have to be in possession of set-top boxes that will allow viewers to receive the signal. Set-top boxes are expected to be available to the public during 2010.
The migration process and its marketing campaign will be known as the “Go Digital” campaign and will keep the public informed of progress while ramping up to full launch later in 2010.
During the migration period, about 9,1-million South African households will have to buy set-top boxes in order to access the new digital TV services.
“Switching over to digital television offers significant advantages that include better picture and sound quality, a wider selection of television channels, and enhanced features such as programme alarms, electronic TV guides, games, and interactive services,” says Kantor.