Johannesburg – Friday 25 March 2022. The SABC Board has noted public concerns about the Analogue Switch Off deadline of 31 March 2022 and its potential impact on the public and all  the public broadcaster’s stakeholders.

For more than a decade now, the SABC has been supporting the Digital Migration policy and programme of the national government and our position remains unchanged. The benefits of digital television are multiple. Among others, digital television will enhance the quality of our offerings, expand our competitive advantage, and empower the public with more content variety and choices.

As we approach the 31 March 2022 ASO deadline, we remain hopeful that our engagement with Shareholder Representative, the Minister of Communication and Digital Technologies, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, will yield favourable outcomes, including the extension of the ASO timetable. The SABC believes that the extension of the ASO timetable will ensure that no South African is left behind or denied access to Free-To-Air television and public television services.

The plan to switch off all ATV transmitters by 31 March 2022, despite the slow progress of STB registrations and installations, presents an unsustainable risk to the rights of millions of indigent households, as well as the Corporation’s Turnaround Plan. A premature switch-off will deprive millions of people from important public television services.

The four provinces designated for switch off on 31 March 2022 comprise 68% of South Africa’s population. As at February 2022 only 165,000 STBS out of the 2.9m indigent households (5.7%) had been installed in the four outstanding provinces. This number is simply too low for the SABC’s ATV services to be switched off in the four largest provinces, at this stage.

The SABC engages with the Digital Migration Project mindful of its inescapable constitutional and legal obligations to the people of South Africa. The corporation will do everything possible within the Intergovernmental Relations Framework and the law to safeguard its interests and protect the rights of every citizen to access public television services.

The SABC wants to reassure the public that it will continue engaging with the Minister to ensure the ASO timetable is extended.