Industry players attending the Digital TV Summit in Bryanston, Johannesburg, have called on the Department of Communications to improve its planning for digital migration after representatives from the ministry failed to give their scheduled address.
Attendees expressed concern at the quality of the planning for the switchover, raising questions over the feasibility of South Africa meeting the 2015 global deadline.
Gelfand Kausiyo, chief executive officer (CEO) of Turbo Worx, said: “There must be some kind of direction in terms of planning. Communication, communication, communication. Therefore it is still a concern.”
He said though South Africa had won plaudits for its original plan for digital migration, that plan was no longer in evidence.
“Digital migration is the biggest development in broadcasting since the inception of television,” he said. “Whatever happens after this is unknown. The way it is being communicated is beginning to occupy headlines more than the plan itself.
“Where has that plan gone now, if it was the plan?”
Charlene Fullard, a partner at CLJ Consulting, bemoaned the regular delays South Africa experiences in implementing important changes.
“Nothing we have done in this country has actually happened when it should have happened,” she said.
Aldred Dreyer, chief technology officer (CTO) at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, said the problem with digital migration was that it was not considered a national priority by many nations, having been imposed by an international organisation.
“Digital migration is not seen as a country priority,” he said. “Everyone is in its for money, so communication is a secondary priority on the list.”
The consensus was that South Africa could still meet the 2015 deadline, but would need to improve in planning and implementation.
James Hill, technology manager of broadcast at SABC, said: “I believe we can make the deadline. We need as an industry to get our house in order and move on this. Otherwise we won’t get there.”