The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) welcomes the constitutional court ruling that found the scheduled date for analogue switch-off unconstitutional.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Technology announced on 28 February 2022 that the department will finally switch-off analogue to digital on 31 March 2022. In affirming the need for this “urgent” switch-off with the minister and also making a slight concession with those opposing the switch-off, the North Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of the switch-off but extended the date to the 30th of June 2022.
SAFTU subquently released a statement denouncing the North Gauteng High Court Judgement and supporting the campaign to #SaveFreeTv by calling on government to halt Analogue Switch-Off (ASO).
Our reasons for supporting the campaign against ASO are primarily based on averting the disadvantages that working class households will face in the event of a switch off before mass migration of working class households to digital television. We called and still call on government to help poor households to migrate to digital television by procuring set-top boxes for them before finally switching off analogue.
The con-court ruling thus sync with our main demand to delay the final Analogue Switch-Off. This delay is necessary until the following minimum conditions are met:
- The release of promised funding from USAASA to enable free-to-air channels, including the community TV channels, to launch a communications campaign to educate the public on the benefits of DTT and motivate them to migrate. In order to be effective, this campaign should be rolled out over a six-month period from the time said funding is received.
- A minimum of 95% threshold has been reached with regards to the installationof subsidised set top boxes for indigent households.
We reiterate that SAFTU recognises the need to migrate to Digital Terrestial Television (DTT) and to free-up spectrum for communications purposes, but we urge government not to leave the working poor behind nor to compromise the SABC’s ability to attract advertisers.