Chairperson of the Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association, Mr Lynn Mansfield,
The Chairperson of the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa, Dr Stephen Mncube,
Alastair Gellatly, Chief Engineer and Manager (Broadcasting Spectrum Planning Section, Australian Communications and Media Authority),
Kate Macefield (Head of Broadcast, Digital UK),
Ladies and gentlemen.
Chairperson, before I address you on the matters that you dealt with for the past three days, I would be failing in my executive and citizens duties if I do not ask you to take a minute of silence for our fellow African brothers who were attacked and killed in the Afrophobia or Xenophobic attacks across the country. This is no time for cheap political point scoring, but we must all take the stand and say wrong is wrong, no one has the right to attack or kill another human being, especially those who chose our country as their homes and hope for economic recovery. As broadcasters and all citizens, I urge you, like the adverts or public service announcements am hearing now running on the SABC Radio stations, to strongly condemn the unwarranted attacks in the spirit of nation building and social cohesion.
Thank you for indulgence.
I consider it a very special honour to be invited to address this august gathering of experts and influencers in the realm of digital communications. I have no doubt that your shared expertise and input will greatly assist us in our journey towards Digital Migration.
Regrettably I was unable to form part of earlier discussions. I have however, been informed about the detailed and insightful deliberations that took place in my absence.
The broadcasting digital migration process is very close to my heart and I am confident that South Africa is ready to boldly step into the digital realm. Our journey in this regard is immensely shaped by these types of engagements. We will also continue to call on the support and expertise of those who have already walked this journey or are in the process of completing it.
I am informed that you generously shared your experiences with members of my department. Words alone cannot express my appreciation for your willingness to share lessons of your own journeys towards broadcasting digital migration and international best practices.
I am heartened that you all have shown a keen interest on the progress towards the implementation of the Digital Terrestrial Television programme in South Africa.
I am happy to report that South Africa is well on track to ensure successful broadcasting digital migration. We have established a Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Project Management Office, which is hard at work behind the scenes. The necessary Policy Amendments have also been finalised and were approved by Cabinet on 4 March 2015 and subsequently gazetted on 18 March 2015.
We plan to implement the project over an 18 month period and have put together a programme to guide us in this regard. We have also completed the Implementation Plan. I am informed that work to finalise the technical the Set Top Box Control Specifications is at an advanced stage.
I believe that SENTECH, ICASA and broadcasters shared their state of readiness with this conference. They are ready to travel with us on this historic journey.
Sentech has completed 84 per cent geographic coverage, with the remaining 16 per cent to be covered by satellite. All 178 transmitters are in place and DTT head ends have also been configured.
We have standards in place with (DTT SANS 862 DVB-T2) as approved by the South African Bureau of Standards. DTT regulations by ICASA are also ready.
We continue to engage with all the stakeholders involved in this process in order to encourage them to play their respective role in implementing broadcasting digital migration. As a country we can proudly say that we are on track with the implementation of the DTT programme.
Our march towards a brave new digital frontier was never going to be without challenges. However, we are a country that is known for ability to overcome the most intractable obstacles.
In order to manage issues related to the interference with neighbouring States post “switch on”, we are working on a programme to engage our neighbours with a view to conclude bilateral agreements. The Ministers of our neighbouring states are also aware of the need to engage with South Africa and a harmonised effort is being executed.
Closer to home we are working with entities and stakeholders to enhance and expedite consumer awareness around digital migration. We have also embarked on a massive communication programme to spread the word about digital migration.
I have traversed the country and spoke to people during the Izimbizo (which take the form of community discussion). There have been on several broadcasts on community radio, and several articles have been published in the monthly Vuk’uzenzele newspaper, which has a circulation of 1.7 million hard copies.
We have also not forgotten about the importance of taking our partners along with us every step of the journey. ICASA, SABC, Brand SA, GCIS, FPB and MDDA were invited to all our Izimbizo so that they too could communicate their role in the rollout process.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is often easier to tread a path that others have already followed. I am therefore happy that delegates shared with us the challenges that they faced in their own countries during the process of implementation. This knowledge and these shared experiences will enable us to better prepare ourselves during the rolling out of digital migration.
Allow me to note some of the common challenges, which have been highlighted during the conference.
Insufficient consumer awareness
Poor coordination with the relevant stakeholders
Bilaterals with neighbouring countries not sticking
Signing of Memorandum of Understanding with the neighbouring
Uncertainties about the achievement of target dates
Lack of mitigating strategies should targets not be met
Reliance by countries on information from the ITU website
Let me assure you that I have noted all of the above and in confidence I can share with you that the department and all role-players are taking these matters very seriously. They will form part of our risk register as we believe fore-warned is fore-armed.
Taking from the UK model, I believe it is a good model that will assist us towards the implementation of the programme. I therefore expect my team to take these lessons on board.
Clearly defined processes, roles and responsibilities
Central coordination and governance structure
Identifying common goal – viewers
Review and refine processes e.g. communication
Learning lessons for future programmes
And Key conclusions; namely – a collaborative industry-led approach and produced benefits for viewers, broadcasters and government
From Norway we learnt that for the successful implementation of Digital Audio Broadcasting, the following six “Cs” are the obstacles to overcome:
In closing programmes will be developed with the all of the above raised issued in mind.
Our priority actions going forward will be to engage with the neighbouring countries for spectrum harmonisation. The Bilaterals will be completed before the deadline of 17 June 2015.
On behalf of the people of South Africa, I wish to thank all of you with profound humility for your assistance. Your inputs and shared experience have been invaluable and will greatly assist us on our path to digital migration.
I also wish to express our gratitude to the Southern African Broadcasting Association for hosting this three day conference.
I hope that you all get to return to South Africa in the near future to witness first hand our digital migration. Travel home safely and know that your place in our hearts is forever treasured
I thank you.
SOURCE: South African Official News