Digital Technology Transforming Broadcasting | Lao Tribune

Digital Technology Transforming Broadcasting

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi says the development of digital technology has brought about much-needed change to the broadcasting industry.

“The broadcasting environment is going through an amazing change due to the development of digital technology.

“The Department of Communications has developed a leaflet called Go DIGITAL South Africa, which aims to educate, inform and create awareness about digital migration or Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT),” the Minister said at the Intergovernmental Communicators Forum in Pretoria on Friday.

Minister Muthambi, who is expected to announce the date for the migration of broadcasting services from analogue to digital soon, said the digital migration process promises more channels for consumers.

“There will be more programmes such as dedicated sports, education, health, children, parliamentary, entertainment, music and more vernacular channels, which means variety for viewers.

“Every citizen, irrespective of geographical location, race and economic status, will enjoy access to all free-to-air channels of excellent quality picture and sound,” she said.

The Minister said another aantage of digital migration is that there will be an on-screen electronic programming guide with programme synopses, which includes parental guidance and control of programmes. She said disability services for hard of hearing and sight (subtitles and large scripts) are also included.

The Minister said the Broadcasting Digital Migration Communication Strategy and key messages are being developed.

The need for the DTT programme derives from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) resolution, where countries in region 1 (including Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran) should migrate their broadcasting services from analogue to digital by 17 June 2015.

The main reason for the migration is to release valuable spectrum, which can be used for other services. Spectrum is scarce and it is therefore necessary to make efficient use of the spectrum available for more telecommunications and broadcasting services.

The consequences of failing to meet the 2015 deadline to switch off the analogue terrestrial TV signals is that South Africa will no longer be protected against disruptions of radio waves that are used for analogue television broadcasts.

Nurturing community media

Minister Muthambi appealed to government communicators to relook at their relationship with community media.

“Very often we don’t have a structured and innovative relationship with media at community level, which is a critical sphere of government, where the current regime gets accessed whether it has delivered on its promises or not, notwithstanding the fact that in less than two years, we are going to the Local Government elections,” she said.

She said as the face, eyes and ears of government, a communicator’s role is at the centre of the achievement of the nine-point plan that was announced by President Jacob Zuma during the State of Nation Address (SONA).

The Minister said the nine-point plan is a focused call to action to all government communicators.

The nine-point plan includes energy, strengthening of mining towns, agriculture, small business development and cooperatives, infrastructure development including water, transport and information communication technologies, boosting the Industrial Policy Action Plan, attracting investments and Operation Phakisa.

“The marching orders have been clearly spelt out. What is required of us is to communicate and communicate progress on the programme of action, plans moving forward and the challenges that might delay implementation of some of the plans.

“This should be where we spend most of our money. We need to invest in mass based platforms to promote two-way communications with our people,” she said.

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