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Digital Migration plan comes under fire from etv

Posted by radio On November - 6 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

 

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

 

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Radio and the digital migration

Posted by radio On November - 2 - 2012 ADD COMMENTS

By Abongile Zizi  

In a country nearing complete readiness for Digital Terestrial Television (DTT), the same transition for radio is still far off. This is because digital radio would only be a necessity if all analogue frequencies were full and no more FM stations could be licensed. It is a misconception that analogue radio will have to give way for a digital transition, the question then becomes, what does digital migration mean for radio?

South African radio audiences seem satisfied with the current AM and FM signals which are analogue and widely used for radio broadcasts. The obvious advantage that goes without stating is that with the digital migration more radio channels can be accommodated on the spectrum.  This gives room for radio to grow and diversify to cater to a variety of interests and audiences.  Radio stations are moving to using digital equipment in production but this does not translate to a readiness. Currently, ICASA is working on revising the Frequency Migration Plan for South Africa as the implementation of DTT has a notable influence on radio frequencies. Because of DTT, ICASA has to now efficiently plan how they allocate frequencies to radio communications. The regulator has already approved two digital technologies for digital radio in South Africa: Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM).

Debates around the type of technology to be implemented for a move to digital radio are pivotal in understanding what a possible radio migration would entail. Part of the appeal of radio is that unlike television, it is an exclusively audio based medium. Some digital radio standards allow for data streams to accompany the audio in the form of text with programme information and web-cam like pictures of DJ’s or advertising, this change the exclusively audio element of radio.

As a country far from an audio digital migration, it is fair to note that digital audio is being delivered to audiences through other mediums. In a paper titled “Challenges and perspectives of digital migration for African media, Professor Guy Burger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO states; “Even if digital terrestrial broadcasts for radio do take root in African countries, eventually it is likely that audio will actually travel via a patchwork of technologies, such as satellite for remote areas, and cell phones for outdoor listening, while indoors would be via internet or even digital TV.”

It is an exciting time for the country with the strides we have made in relation to DTT and although digitised radio signals are still far off in terms of implementation, digital technology in the country is revolutionising radio from production to reception.

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