Government embraces dual-step strategy for digital migration

Installation of digital migration television decoders in Umfolozi, 20 Dec 2016. Photo: GCIS

If you earn less than R3500 or receive a SASSA grant, head to the Post Office to apply for your free TV decoder

Applicants that apply for a subsidised decoder before 1 November will receive one before the analogue broadcasting signals are switched off on 31 March 2022.

Government embraces dual-step strategy for digital migration

Installation of digital migration television decoders in Umfolozi, 20 Dec 2016. Photo: GCIS

South Africa aims to complete its digital broadcast migration by 31 March 2022. When this happens all analogue television signals will be switched off and only digital transmissions will be broadcast. Analogue television sets need a decoder (or set-top box) to access the digital signals.


Qualifying households that apply for a decoder before 1 November should receive a decoder before the analogue signal is switched off. Those who apply after 1 November, however, will have to wait.

The South African Post Office (SAPO) said: All South African households with an income of R3500 per month or less and a working television set qualify for a government subsidised set-top box.  Qualifying beneficiaries must visit their nearest Post Office branch as soon as possible with the following documentation:

  1. A South African identity document.
  2. Proof of address.
  3. An affidavit to confirm that the family has a working television set.
  4. A bank statement or affidavit to confirm that the family income is R3500 per month or less. If you receive a SASSA grant, you do not need to bring proof of income.  Proof that you receive a SASSA grant is enough.

The Post Office said applicants do not have to visit a police station to do an affidavit as SAPO branches have standard affidavits that can be used to declare income and confirm the ownership of a working television set and a residential address.


Once an application for a decoder has been approved, the information is passed on to Sentech to appoint a local installer.

The post office added that households that have already applied for a decoder do not have to reapply even though the decoders have not been installed yet.

“Installations are done per province and appointment of local installers is done by Sentech via local municipalities.  There is no need to re-register to make sure you receive a set-top box,” said SAPO.

To improve efficiency, there will be a separate queue for decoder applications at Post Offices. “If you are a SASSA beneficiary and you have a working television set, remember that you qualify for the subsidised set-top box.”


Analogue signals are denser than digital broadcast signals. The migration to digital broadcasting will unclog the spectrum and provide South Africans with more access to a variety of content.

“A digitised signal can allow for up to ten TV channels (standard definition) to be broadcast, whereas a single analogue channel would require the whole frequency,” said Guy Berger, explaining the inefficiency of analogue broadcasting in his book Challenges and Perspectives of Digital Migration for African Media.

So, instead of the traditional channels, which we are accustomed to on public broadcasting: SABC 1, 2, 3, ETV and a community television station, the decoder will enable access to at least 22 television channels and 19 radio stations.

Television channels

  1. SABC 1
  2. SABC 2
  3. SABC 3
  4. SABC Sport
  5. SABC Education
  6. SABC Encore
  7. SABC News
  8. Parliament
  9. Africa Magic Epic
  10. Mzanzi Bioskop
  11. M Movies 4
  12. Mzanzi Wethu
  13. S Sport Blitz
  14. SS Select sport
  15. Discovery TLC
  16. Disney JNR
  17. Nick Toons
  18. Mzanzi Music
  19. Channel O
  20. Dumisa
  21. Mnet Go
  22. 790 CSN

Radio stations

  1. Radio 2000
  2. Metro
  3. Good Hope
  4. RSG
  5. 04 Channel Africa
  6. 5FM
  7. Lesedi Fm
  8. Lotus
  9. Ukhozi
  10. SAFM
  11. Umhlobo
  12. Thobela
  13. Metsweding
  14. Munghana Lonene
  15. Phalaphala
  16. Ligwalagala
  17. Ikwekwezi
  18. Tru FM
  19. X K FM