Analogue TV switch-off: 500 000 households to get set-top boxes by end June, Cabinet pledges

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Cabinet says more than half a million poor households should receive set-top boxes in the next two months, which will enable them to continue watching television after the switch-off of the analogue TV signal at the end of June.

An estimated 3.75 million poor households with analogue sets could apply for government-sponsored set-top boxes to “migrate” their televisions – but by mid-March, fewer than 1.12 million had applied. Only around 660 000 households had so far had new set-top boxes installed.

The 507 251 households that registered by 31 October last year will be connected no later than 30 June 2022, according to a statement released by Cabinet on Thursday after its meeting on Wednesday.

The 260 868 households that registered between 31 October 2021 and 10 March 2022 will be receive their set-top boxes by end September.

The latter group may be left without a signal for up to three months, given that the high court ruled that the analogue signal should be switched off by end June.

Broadcaster challenged the proposed switch-off deadline in court, but late in March, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed the broadcaster’s attempt to have the proposed switch-off date declared unlawful and invalid.

It postponed the switch-off deadline from the end of March to the end of June 2022.

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On Thursday, Cabinet said that the court’s deferment had given enough time to complete installation for most pre-registered households.

“The deferment on the analogue switch-off date from 31 March to 30 June 2022 provides sufficient time to government to complete the installation of STBs for households that have registered timeously and are entitled to receive them before the analogue switch-off,” the statement said.