On the 1st of November, ICASA held public hearings concerning the proposed frequency migration plan. The plan proposes a large-scale migration of TV broadcasters from the spectrum bands they are assigned as part of the digital migration process. Broadcasters made recommendations in which they addressed some of their concerns.
Although in support of the digital migration, free to air broadcasters like etv have rallied against the proposed changes to the frequency migration plan. The migration plan presents a challenge to their sustainability. Broadcasters are particularly concerned at the absence of policy inquiry into the future needs of terrestrial broadcasting and its implication on business. In a statement, etv’s Chief Executive Officer Marcel Golding says that given the significant impact such a plan would have on the business of free-to-air broadcasters, the channel expects the plan to be carefully developed.
The much desired 790MHz to 862MHz and 694MHz to 790MHz bands (termed Digital Dividend 1 and 2 respectively) are currently occupied by terrestrial broadcasting services. ICASA states that these bands will be vacated by 2015. Golding further stated that following analogue switch-off it must be guaranteed that at least one full DTT multiplex that will replicate the channel’s position in the analogue environment or be compensated for the loss of spectrum.
Without defined entitlements after analogue switch-off, broadcasters will be thrown into an environment where they are unable to explore additional services such as HD and 3D. This will impact on their ability to compete against TV-like services delivered over new technologies. The channel has also stated that it supports the release of a digital dividend as it understands that broadband and mobile telecommunications has an important role in South Africa’s development. e.tv has made a recommendation to ICASA to consider making it clear that the rights of existing analogue broadcasters concerning the digital dividend will be considered at a later stage in a separate consultative process.
Issued by e.tv