South Africa will have three national digital multiplexes for television, according to The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which has just published the Digital Terrestrial Television regulations for final public consultation.
The first multiplex will be used for public broadcasting, including the SABC and Eastern Cape community station Trinity Broadcasting Network. A public value test will be applied to any channels wishing to broadcast on this multiplex. The SABC will have to include two regional channels as part of this multiplex.
In the second multiplex, commercial free-to-air services will be included. E.tv will be allocated 60 percent of the multiplex, with additional capacity to be allocated to new broadcasters.
Of the third multiplex, 50 percent will be reserved for pay-TV operator M-Net, conditional on its ability to switch all its subscribers from its current analogue decoders to digital decoders within a year.
Complete analogue switch-off is planned on November 1, 2011. ICASA wants to introduce competition with the end of the dual illumination period, allow for trials by other interested persons, enable for the provision of mobile services such as DVB-H), provide for M-Net to conduct a hard switch over within a period of 12 months, thus allowing an early release of the digital dividend.