Digital migration switch
Government aims to save money by working with industry to complete set-top box roll-out
THE government believes it will cut costs in the switch from analogue to digital TV after it stopped the procurement of set-top boxes despite spending billions of rand on them.
The procurement of set-top boxes was halted after it was discovered it was costly and not sustainable.
Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said yesterday the department stopped the procurement, storage and installation of set-top boxes.
However, they would work with industry to finalise digital migration to the benefit of poor households.
Mokonyane would not say how much money would be saved by partnering with the private sector to complete the project.
“Initially, it was estimated that we will need an additional R7 billion but revised estimates said we won’t go beyond R2bn.
“There was R10bn spent on warehousing, procurement and connection because government was relying on its own capacity.
“The stock (set-top boxes) in our warehouses is (what) we are rolling out to reach the Free State, Northern Cape, North West and other provinces,” she said. However, in the past the government spent more than R10bn on purchasing set-top boxes.
The project was initiated more than 15 years ago, but little progress has been made. Mokonyane said they planned to bring digital TV to 5 million poor households.
The SA Social Security Agency and the Department of Co-operative Governance would help the government identify poor families that still needed to make the switch from analogue to digital TV.
She said they invited the SABC and MultiChoice to be part of the new project.
“On the set-top boxes, it has come up in Cabinet that it is not sustainable for the government to procure (them),” she said.
From their discussions, they found they could reach only 7% of the 5 million families targeted to receive digital TV. In future the government would give vouchers to families, who would hand them to companies for the installation of set-top boxes.
Mokonyane said through this process the number of families requiring set-top boxes would decrease below the 5 million the government had aimed to reach.
She said the project had so far been costly for the government.
“This project is not a project (concerning) set-top boxes, but digital migration.
“Yes, we will be saving. Our intention is to localise 99.9% of the equipment we will use.
“We will give you information on what we will be saving,” Mokonyane said.
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