R10bn later‚ government drops set-top boxes in latest digital migration flip-flop

R10bn and many years later‚ government is stopping the procurement of set-top boxes meant to facilitate the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting‚ opting for an industry-driven “hybrid model”.

This is according to communications minister and cabinet spokesperson Nomvula Mokonyane‚ who told the media in Cape Town on Thursday that the cabinet has taken the decision at its fortnightly meeting on Wednesday.

Mokonyane said government would now stop directly procuring‚ transporting and installing set-top boxes to a projected five million poor households and would seek a public-private partnership with dominant players in broadcasting such as Multichoice and the SABC to take the digital migration forward.

This is the latest flip-flop in the government’s policy around digital migration‚ which has been lagging behind for several years now due to policy inconsistencies.

Mokonyane said they were 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.

She revealed that government has been advised that existing set-top boxes were using technology that has increasingly become obsolete.

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