Nearly half a million households in the Western Cape are facing blank screens due to their outdated televisions.
At least 450 000 households are at risk of losing their TV reception when the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies switches off the analogue broadcast signal in November, reports the Weekend Argus.
The distribution of set-top boxes to indigent households in the Western Cape never got off the ground and now the department is banking on a voucher system that will subsidise their distribution and installation.
At the start of last year, the Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, admitted that there were at least 900 000 set-top boxes in warehouse storage that needed to be distributed across the country and that the digital switchover project would cost government R10 billion.
The switch-off of the analogue broadcast signal will free up spectrum to be used for wireless and broadband services, but also enable more digital broadcasts and more television channels to be launched.
The process has been slow in the Western Cape.
By the department’s own calculations, only 54 842 households out of a total of 508 888 have voluntarily registered to receive the government issued set-top box – leaving more than 450 000 possibly in the dark.