Poverty Killed Your Signal

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    TV Switch-Off: A Recipe for Disaster

    As the clock ticks closer to the analogue TV switch-off, two powerful lobby groups are sounding the alarm: the switch-off will leave millions of poor South Africans in the dark, literally. The SOS Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa are warning that the communications regulator, Icasa, must act in the public interest to avoid a catastrophic failure of the digital broadcasting migration.

    The Silent Majority

    The majority of South Africans still rely on public-interest broadcasting to make informed decisions about their lives. But with the switch-off looming, millions will be left without access to television, condemning them to a life of ignorance and isolation. The licence conditions of the SABC and community broadcasters must reflect the guarantees provided in regard to multiplex allocation, prioritizing South African content to ensure the future viability of these vital institutions.

    The Betrayal of the Poor

    The department of communications & digital technologies has been unclear on the progress regarding the migration to digital, and parliament has failed to play its oversight role. The result? A digital migration process that will leave no one behind, except for the poor. The department should set a target of migrating 85% of the population to digital before switching off analogue signals. Anything less is a betrayal of the most vulnerable members of our society.

    The SABC: A ticking Time Bomb

    The switch-off will have devastating consequences for the SABC, the national broadcaster. With millions of viewers lost, the SABC will be left with a shrinking audience, threatening its very existence. This is not just a crisis for the SABC, but for the thousands of jobs it supports and the millions of South Africans who rely on it for news, entertainment, and information.

    The Alternative: A Recipe for Disaster

    But what’s the alternative? A free-for-all, where multiplexes are assigned based on financial interests, not the public interest. This will lead to a proliferation of "schlock" – betting channels, shopping channels, and other useless content. The result? A TV landscape that is devoid of substance, catering only to the interests of the wealthy and powerful.

    The Battle for the Future of TV

    The fate of TV in South Africa hangs in the balance. Will we prioritize the public interest, or will we sacrifice the poor and vulnerable on the altar of profit? The choice is ours. The battle for the future of TV has begun.

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