The strategy outlines the “policy parameters” for the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting in South Africa. The migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television is set to begin on 1 November this year. The switchover period will end on 1 November 2011.
Departmental spokesperson Albi Modise said the strategy had to be revisited owing to decisions and commitments made at the WRC. He said these decisions were among other things related to how freed-up broadcast transmission spectrum would be utilised.
Digital broadcasting takes up less spectrum space (spectrum is limited) than analogue broadcasting, resulting in freed-up spectrum. The draft strategy proposes such spectrum could be utilised to accommodate “alternative broadcasters including new free-to-air and subscription broadcasters”, for broadband wireless access and/or “cellular mobile communications uses”.
The deadline for comments on this draft strategy closed on 16 April last year. The department said at the time it aimed to make the final strategy public by May 2007.
In mid-September, Dr. Harold Wesso, a deputy director-general in the department of communications, said at the annual Highway Africa Conference in Grahamstown that the strategy had been finalised. He said he expected it to be gazetted within a week from then.
It didn’t happen. Modise said it was not known when the strategy would be gazetted.