Representatives of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the South African regulator, have just completed a tour visiting a number of countries in Europe (including the UK, Germany and Norway) as well as Australia, to discuss digital sound broadcasting and the many and varied aspects of planning to launch permanent services.
While in Australia, the delegation held meetings with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Australian regulator, and public broadcaster ABC. On 22 November, the delegation also met with Commercial Radio Australia’s Kath Brown and Dr Lesley Sabel (pictured below).
The delegation was led by Mr Ndumiso Dana (third from the left in above photo), who ran the public consultation on the implementation of digital radio in South Africa in March 2018. Mr Dana is also a member of a newly formed 15-member Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) Council Committee, whose purpose is to make progress towards expanding regulatory scope for digital sound broadcasting technologies, with the aim of accommodating additional sound broadcasters in conventional and other frequency bands.
This meeting follows a series of recent events and initiatives focused on the rollout and development of DAB+ in South Africa. A huge step towards digitising radio in South Africa was taken earlier this year by the South African Department of Communications, which published a policy directive on the introduction of digital sound broadcasting in South Africa, with Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane highlighting that “the South African broadcasting market is fertile for the introduction of digital radio,” and “will allow for industry growth and increase diversity.” Interested parties were given 30 working days from the date of publication (28 September 2018) to make submissions on the suitability of the recommended digital sound broadcasting standards to complement the respective analogue sound broadcasting services.
Having taken into consideration the extensive trials undertaken by the sound broadcasting industry in the Gauteng province (Johannesburg and Pretoria), ICASA recommends the following digital sound broadcasting standard to compliment the respective analogue sound broadcasting service: DAB+ to complement VHF sound broadcasting services in the band 214 MHz to 230 MHz.
South Africa, which is in the process of switching off analogue TV services, currently has a total of 20 DAB+ service on air, and is the first country in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to carry out DAB+ trials.