Government has announced that it will stop the procurement of set-top boxes as part of its Broadcast Digital Migration Project.
This was confirmed in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday (10 October), it said in a statement.
“Cabinet approved a revised delivery model on implementation of the Broadcast Digital Migration Project,” it said.
“The model adopts a market/retail-driven approach through collaboration and partnerships with the private sector and industry. With this approach, government will no longer be involved in the procurement of set-top-boxes, warehousing, transportation and installation of devices.”
It added that this will provide South Africa with ‘headway’ towards the completion of the project in a manner that is inclusive, affordable and efficient, and that reduces risk to government.
This will also push digital viewership migration to the 85% threshold and beyond – towards switching off all analogue broadcasts, it said.
Communications minister and cabinet spokesperson Nomvula Mokonyane confirmed the change in an interview with TimesLive.
“Three things have come out of the assessment: that it’s not sustainable for government to be the one that procures and stores… with the development and advancement of technology‚ some of the interventions that were considered have come to be obsolete and hence you need a hybrid of intervention.
“Those that are supposed to be cushioned by government are still going to benefit‚ but not just benefit through a set-top box. I’ve said there are considerations of vouchers hence we’re working with the retail sector‚ the manufacturing sector‚ Multichoice and SABC‚” said Mokonyane.
She added that her department was now working with a “multi-disciplinary advisory council” on the implementation of its new stance on digital migration‚ which also comprised of manufacturers of digital decoders‚ the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa)‚ Stats SA and Telkom among others.
“Work that has been done until now‚ with the procurement‚ installation‚ the awareness campaign and everything comes to about R10 billion and that includes the gadgets that are in the different warehouses that we want to dispose of by connecting them and putting them into use,” she said.