By Nonceba Soul –
Following robust discussions over the past three days, the Free State is convinced that the planned switch over to the digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform will go ahead at the end of the year.
Speaking at the close of the three-day colloquium at Pacofs in Bloemfontein on Thursday (25 Oct), the Minister of Communications, Nomvula Mokonyane, said the switching off of the analogue system should be done in the shortest possible time.
“Over the past few days we experienced several delays due to a variety of circumstances that are well known to this forum. Now is the time to move decisively and ensure that we speedily switch off our analogue broadcasting system in the shortest possible time. We also know that this project needs hands, minds and working together as a community,” Mokonyane told the delegates.
The minister added that she believes that the colloquium has managed to find ways of ensuring that all stakeholders are geared for the migration to digital TV.
“I am confident that the colloquium has managed to find ways of ensuring that we can assist the province in coordinating with the manufacturers and retailers to accelerate the supply of decorders and IDTVs in shops in the province. Availing migration devices in large numbers would facilitate the uptake of services and citizen migration,” she said.
According to Mokonyane, the digitalisation of the airwaves should result in the creation of job opportunities especially for the youth. She also stressed the importance of having the bulk of the programming in local languages as well as having programmes that tell the Free State story.
Suggestions were made that there should also be a local DTT Centre where information will be given to people in local languages. This will also create jobs for the youth.
Another point that came strongly is the need to accelerate the training of people who will be taking part in the process of digital migration.
Following the hosting of the colloquium, various stakeholders in the province are expected to put in place structures such as the training of technicians to install as well as repair the set-top boxes and TVs while other work on ensuring that relevant content is produced.
The digitalisation of the airwaves will see more options for viewers as more channels will be available for their viewing pleasure. One of the new channels set to hit the airwaves is Free State TV.
Modelled along the lines of SowetoTV and KZNTV, the FSTV is expected to tell the FS story.
Speaking at the opening of the colloquium on Tuesday, the provincial Premier, Sefora “Sisi” Ntombela encouraged stakeholders to ensure that 90% of the job opportunities created during the transition period should be given to people living in the Free State. The value chain is expected to create job opportunities in distribution and retail of set-top boxes and television sets, installations, content generators, actors, producers, camera people, scriptwriters, presenters, directors, among a host of other opportunities.
The colloquium was attended by such organisations as the SA Post Office, the regulatory authority ICASA, Government Communication and Information Services (GCIS), DSTV, Destea, FDC, SABC, HlaselaTV, QwaqwaFM and others.