Alison Gilwald

Minister of Communications Dr Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri launched the Digital Broadcasting Advisory Body (DBAB) and a production counterpart in early March 2001. The DBAB was established under provisions in the White  Paper on Broadcasting Policy and the Broadcasting Act and is made up of 16 members  from across industry and academia. The DBAB is to advise government on high  level policy in the sector and to provide input to other advisory processes and bodies such as Thabo Mbeki's presidential taskforces on technology and communications.
Government established the two bodies in order to keep in step with global technological developments, and continue to find innovative ways to promote local content in the changing broadcasting and communications environment, the department of communication said in  a statement. The DBAB will determine the actions government needs to undertake to maintain competitiveness, quality and quantity in the digital environment Matsepe-Casaburri says the ideal is to devise a long-term strategy to ensure that all  South African lives are touched by and benefit from new digital technologies.

The DBAB will be headed up by Alison Gillwald director of the LINK (Learning, Information and Knowledge) centre of the University of the Witwatersrand.
Gillwald, chairperson of the DBAB, says she hopes it could help eliminate uncertainty about digital broadcasting in general.Digital broadcasting in a developing country like SA has a catalytic role to play in strengthening knowledge infrastructure.
 
The DBAB will tackle the issues in five Working Committees:

  • Definitions trends,
  • developments,
  • scope Economic implications and
  • market study
  • Technical
  • Policy.
  • Legal and regulatory A final report is expected within 12 to18 months.


SADIBA delegates met with Gillwald  in early April 2001 and discussed the possibility of contributing to the processes and providing input where appropriate. As a first contribution SADIBA will in  partnership with international delegates arrange an Industry Workshop as well  as a closed presentation session with DBAB on the technical, commercial and  regulatory models being pursued world-wide. The Industry workshop is planned for mid July 2001.
(The above draws on the ITWEB article by Phillip de Wet, Johannesburg, 12 March 2001)

INTRODUCTION

SADIBA (the Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association) appreciates this opportunity to respond to the inputs requested by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to the draft broadcast frequency plan 2001. 

SADIBA is a voluntary industry forum dedicated to promoting the co-ordinated market driven introduction of digital broadcasting technologies in the Southern African region.
 The  association was previously known as SADABA (Southern African Digital Audio Broadcasting Association) and has been active as a voluntary industry forum  since the beginning of 1997.It was  initially formed to concentrate only on digital audio broadcasting, but later  realised that due to the convergence of technologies and applications,
it should cover the whole digital broadcasting field.The constitution was therefore amended in 1999.SADIBA is unique, as its membership is open to all entities interested  in promoting and sharing ideas on the development of digital broadcasting. Current members include broadcasters, signal distributors, consumer equipment manufacturers and distributors, the standards organisation and the marketing fraternity.

The SADIBA submission acknowledges that several members will in addition to the SADIBA submission also render their own submissions.

 


The Association wishes to point towards the multitude of new services that will be delivered via digital broadcasting platforms. These will include traditional public, private and community services as well as new niche broadcast services, data services, interactive services as well as integrated multimedia services.The digital platforms will also allow for dynamic  re-configuration of services. This will mean that the capacity used for a public service during one period of the day could be used for data or any other service at a different time of the broadcast day.
It may be inappropriate to rigidly apply the current categories in future. A more flexible approach that can accommodate optimal frequency use, regardless of the specific definition of the service type or nature may even provide  advantages in the analogue broadcast world today.


SADIBA herewith wishes to encourage the regulator to take decisive steps towards the fast tracked introduction of digital broadcasting in South Africa as this offers the best avenue to promote increased diversity of services  and will alleviate the pressure associated with the demand for frequencies.

The introduction of digital broadcasting will instantly create more capacity to carry services within the available radio frequency spectrum. Digital broadcasting technologies (DVB-T and DAB (Eureka 147)) are significantly more spectrum efficient than analogue broadcasting technologies. The introduction of digital terrestrial television (DVB-T) will allow for a 20-fold increase in the number of television services that may be accommodated. Five or more radio services can be accommodated in the spectrum currently required for a single FM radio service. Depending on the networks size and the multiplex configuration, digital single frequency networks can make up to 200 times more efficient use of the broadcast spectrum than analogue networks can.
 
The fast tracked introduction of digital broadcast services coupled with an innovative marketing strategy for receiving equipment will ensure increased diversity of services and cheaper as well as easier access to broadcast capacity as opposed to access to a frequency.

 


The introduction of digital broadcasting will allow for the introduction of new services within the geographical areas in which it is currently not  possible to allocate further analogue broadcasting frequencies. While new frequency allocations in Band III  and in the L-Band would be required for the introduction of Digital Radio (DAB Eureka 147), the digital terrestrial television services may with careful  planning be accommodated within the existing UHF band.

(See the comments of the frequency allocations proposed by ICASA in section 6)

In the interest of protecting national and regional identify, character and culture, it is critical that the regulator fast track the introduction of terrestrial digital broadcasting.
Terrestrial radio broadcasters are currently awaiting the licensing opportunities that will empower them to provide a local national and regional voice that  may compete with the foreign influences delivered via a Satellite Radio system already in the market.
While it may not be possible to regulate or influence the content on an international satellite radio platform, the regulator can protect the national and regional identity, character and culture by enabling the local industry to compete on a terrestrial digital platform. A fast track digital terrestrial radio licensing process as well as licensing incentives will be required in order to protect the national and regional identity character and culture.


Digital Terrestrial Television (DVB-T) will allow for an increased number of services that will enable the inclusion of new national services as well  as local and regional services.The commercial feasibility and networks structure for networks carrying local and regional services need however to be carefully analysed.

      


New stakeholders wishing to enter the South African radio market find the current regulatory structures restrictive and unable todeal with their  requirements.For example: The new service that is to be provided may not be accommodated within the current  licensing categories E.g. a national  community station for a religious community. Other examples relate to the limited number of private licenses available as well as the natural limitations  brought about buy a congested spectrum in the key market areas and therefore the inability to license new services.New stakeholders therefore find the satellite radio option quite attractive. It allows the establishment of new services without elaborate time-consuming processes of applications and hearings. In addition the coverage desired is achieved without any restrictions or obligations. New entrants are free to  continue the business of broadcasting. Local broadcasters are currently expanding their services on to satellite radio and new broadcasters targeting specifically the South Africa radio audience are entering the market. The current limited choice of services on FM and AM is leading to the uptake of digital satellite radio receivers.
This could be growing an unfair competition situation where local broadcasters are required to adhere to license conditions and local content quotas whilst having to compete with services from other local as well as international broadcasters that operate into the same market  without any licensing restrictions or obligations. As the number of satellite radio listeners grows, the potential for uncertainty, instability and disillusionment  with the local regulatory system increases. While it may not be possible to influence the satellite services through local regulation, the regulator can ensure stability and fairness by empowering the local industry to compete with the satellite services by licensing digital terrestrial radio services (existing and new) and providing incentives that will ensure investments in such networks.A favourable digital terrestrial licensing regime may furthermore encourage growth and investments in the local industry thus enabling new entrants and ensuring the stimulation of the local economy and  not payments for satellite capacity in foreign currency.

 


SADIBA acknowledges the contribution made to date by the regulator in facilitating and licensing the pilot transmissions for both DAB (Eureka 147) and DTT (DVB-T). It is expected that the Digital Broadcasting Advisory Body (DBAB) will  make formal recommendations on all relevant digital broadcasting issues including the systems and standards. SADIBA supports
this process and is eager to contribute where appropriate. In light of the ongoing DBAB work, it may be inappropriate to include in this submission detailed system performance comparisons and recommendations. The following will thus not be elaborate. Further information as well as international test results may be provided upon request.

 


SADIBA supports the comments made in the draft frequency plan on the Eureka 147 system. Digital Radio according to Eureka 147 delivers the multimedia radio of the future.The technology is mature and is being introduced across the world. The system is based on an open standard and will ensure  fair and free competition in its introduction. The recent developments in the international consumer market have led to the increase in receiver sales and lower receiver prices.In order to benefit from economies of scale and thus lower receiver costs and service levels of international quality, South Africa will have to embrace that digital radio standard that is most widely introduced and that delivers the broadband audio and data services that will be demand in future. Digital Radio according to Eureka 147 is the only system that is widely introduced and that delivers the radio of the future.In addition to choosing the most widely used system, South Africa would also by allocating frequencies in accordance with the international planning and allocation processes, ensure that standard receivers will operate in the country. Large area Digital Radio (DAB Eureka 147) Single Frequency Networks (SFN) have been deployed in VHF (Band III)Local and regional multiplexes are also accommodated in Band III (UK example)L-Band allocations have been made for smaller coverage areas around cities Only where Band III frequencies are unavailable are network providers pursuing L-Band for larger area coverage. (Canada and  France)In France the 5 additional L-Band blocks  previously allocated for satellite DAB have been re-allocated for terrestrial DAB (DAB Eureka 147).It is expected that this will be expanded throughout  Europe in future frequency planning meetings. Receivers and antennas are capable of receiving transmissions in both the L-Band and Band III L-Band is widely used for niche service networks that are designed with a limited and specific coverage area such as the live  video and data service for public transport systems in SADIBA supports the proposal to deploy Digital Radio (Eureka 147) in Band III as well as in the L-Band. Band III networks will ensure that services may be provided at the lowest possible cost.L-Band networks may be 4 to 5 times more expensive to deploy for the same coverage area.The L-Band allocations provide an attractive low cost solution for niche broadcasts, community radio services as well as data service broadcasts in smaller geographical areas as well as densely populated areas.

Channel

Number

Number of Potential DAB Blocks

(Wiesbaden Plan)

(BPN 003)

Number of transmitters

in operation

(Sentech data base)

Number of High-power transmitters in operation

(Sentech Data Base

CH 5

5

10

6

CH 11

5

11

2

CH 7

5

12

6

CH 4

5

14

6

CH 9

5

15

3

CH 8

4

10

5

CH 10

4

12

3

CH 6

4

14

2

CH 12

1

0

0

CH 13

0

11

5

Table 1:                      DAB Blocks in South African VHF Channels

The table above summarises the collation between the internationally allocated DAB blocks (Wiesbaden Plan) and the South African Band III television channel  allocations referring also to the services in operation.Vacating channel 11 as proposed by the regulator would result in the smallest impact on the existing services whilst rendering the same yield in new DAB blocks. The regulator’s proposal in this regard in supported. Although vacating channel 5 would also yield  5 potential DAB blocks and there are only 10 operational transmitters on this frequency, there are significantly less high power transmitters in operation in Channel 11. Channel 12 is not used for television in South Africa. Vacating the band  above 240MHz would not yield any further DAB blocks as the international frequency allocations for DAB in Band III do not extend above 240 MHz.The current block 13F used in the Sentech Pilot transmissions, is the highest Band III DAB frequency allocated. Sufficient UHF allocations are available and the services on channel 11 could be migrated to the UHF frequencies. In many of the metrople areas where the CH 11 migration to UHF would be required, the general public would already be equipped with UHF antennas (used for e.tv.Viewers would only have to re-tune their receiving equipment.The cost to migrate would thus not be significant to the viewing public. It is recommended that L-Band allocations be made available for broadcast as soon as possible.The L-Band had been earmarked for Digital Radio broadcasting in Project SABRE.As was pointed out above international demand for more spectrum for Digital Radio broadcasting (Eureka 147) has lead to the re-allocation of the L-Band capacity reserved for satellite to terrestrial.  In South Africa the WorldSpace satellite transmissions may require formal recognition in order to ensure that terrestrial transmissions in adjacent  channels do not interfere with the satellite signal.International allocations for Digital Radio (DAB Eureka 147) do not include the FM or AM frequency bands. It is therefor unlikely that these will be used for Digital Radio (DAB Eureka 147) in South Africa.

The Digital Radio Mondiale (or DRM) consortium will offer a system for Digital AM in the frequencies 30 kHz to 30 MHz. One of the design criterion of the DRM system is that it will allow for the introduction of digital transmissions within the band with the digital signals not affecting the existing analogue broadcasts more than any analogue  signal on the same frequency would. DRM transmissions could thus be accommodated within the existing frequency plan. Regular DRM transmissions are expected in Europe from 2003.In future, once the technology is well established and analogue transmissions are migrated from the band, the 9 kHz allocation for DRM could be increased to 18 kHz in order to allow higher quality audio.



The European DVB-T standard has been widely tested and has been implemented in countries outside of Europe.The  ATSC system has met with significant criticism and opposition and has been referred to as significantly flawed.The  ISDB system is slow in getting off the ground. Although it may offer more  flexibility, it will be more expensive to implement as chipsets would be produced at lower volumes than would be the case with DVB-T chipsets. SADIBA would like to recommend the following on frequency allocations for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) within the UHF television band: Provision is to be made in the UHF Band for the analogue television service to be migrated from Channel 11 VHF DTT allocations should consider the number of services to be accommodated on the platform All existing as well as new services are to be accommodated on DTT Digital allocations should as far as possible be made within the existing analogue allocations ensuring minimal disruption to operational services. Where possible the new digital allocations  should fall within the channel groups allocated in order to allow use of existing  transmit and receive antenna systems.


SADIBA wishes to thank ICASA for the opportunity to make this written representation. Should there be an opportunity to make oral representation, SADIBA would welcome an opportunity to address the Authority.

 

 

Lynn Mansfield.

Forward looking Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) followed up on a 1999 conference on broadcasting trends with a Digital Broadcasting conference in early March 2002. The conference was opened by the NBC Director General Dr Ben Mulongeni and the keynote  address delivered by the Deputy Minister: Foreign Affairs, Information and Broadcasting the honourable Gabes Shihepo.

Looking into the future and the application of digital broadcasting in the unique setting of Namibia, presentations at the conference covered digital terrestrial television, digital radio, coverage planning for digital, digital decoders and network management, telemetry systems and quality power.

SADIBA members participating at the event included Multichoice Africa, the SABC and Sentech. Gerhard Petrick, SADIBA Secretary represented the association and gave a presentation on the processes followed in developing policy and regulatory frameworks for digital broadcasting.In support of the endeavours of the NBC Mr Petrick presented a copy of the SADIBA Recommendations on Digital Broadcasting to the Chairman of the NBC Board of Directors, Mr Kaumbi as well as Mr J Musukuma, Secretary General of the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA).

The importance of regional co-operation and collaboration in view of common systems and standards and the possibility of arriving at cheaper mass-produced receivers for the region was deliberated. Further discussions at the conference have prepared the way for closer co-operation between SABA and SADIBA.

Under the guidance of Mr Rector Mutelo, Controller Technical Services (NBC), conference delegates arrived at recommendations for the NBC on the way forward. SADIBA hopes to continue making a meaningful contribution to debate on digital broadcasting in the region.

For more information on digital broadcasting in Southern Africa, contact SADIBA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE SADIBA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

 

The Association concluded its fifth operational year by the end of 2001.The association had significantly changed its work processes and structure at the outset of 2001. It was unclear how these changes would effect the membership or how activities would be co-ordinated and key outputs delivered.  This annual report bears testimony of the success of the changes and the contributions made by the Task Group Chairpersons and the greater SADIBA membership to further the association’s objectives.  An overview of the past year’s activities is given below:


The SADIBA Steering Group (SG) was established in accordance with the AGM directive. The group consisting of the Executive Committee (EC) and the Chairpersons of the Task Groups met 7 times during 2001.


The increased focus brought about by the establishment of the SG channelled activities to the various task groups.In order to ensure information flow across the TG boundaries a new forma“General Meeting” (GM) or information sharing session was introduced.Two new format GM’s were held in 2001.


The main objective for 2001 namely to “formulate and lobby a joint position on regulatory frameworks, systems and standards” was pursued in parallel by three Task Groups:

 The TG met four (4) times during 2001 and defined a set of recommendations on Digital Radio systems, standards, policy and regulatory frameworks and roll-out scenarios for South
 Africa.


Digital Terrestrial Television: Three work units, each with an elected leader, were formed to investigate and recommend:

A DTT standard for SA, guidelines for a minimum common receiver specification and guidelines for ensuring a minimum level of service reception quality (unit leader - Aldred Dreyer, Sentech).

Whether centralised co-ordination of DTT Service Information (SI) management should be adopted in SA (unit leader - Steven Vorster, Orbicom).

A framework for migration from analogue television to DTT in SA (unit leader - Sharoda Rapeti, SABC).


This TG conducted an industry survey on key digital broadcasting policy and\ regulatory issues and formulated an interim position based on the survey results and work outputs from the other TG’s. The P& R TG met three times in 2001.

A highlight of 2001 and major impetus to the work of the TG’s was the Workshop on Digital Broadcasting held in 16 and 17 July 2001. The event was attended by more than 70 delegates from across Southern Africa.  International perspective on Digital Radio and Digital Television were provided by Julie Ackerman (WorldDAB), Jeff Astle (Digital One, UK), Gordon Drury (DigiTag and DVB, UK) Jesper Josbrant (Teracom,\ Sweden) and Ruud Vader (Digicast, The Netherlands).

The Objective of supporting the Work of the Digital Broadcasting Advisory Body (DBAB) was met through numerous meetings with the Body and its representatives as well as the facilitation of the closed session with the international delegates to the SADIBA workshop on 18 July 2001.   SADIBA formally presented the approved SADIBA recommendations and position papers on digital broadcasting systems, standards and policy and regulatory frameworks for South Africa to DBAB on 30 January 2002.


The Membership and Events TG played a key role in arranging the SADIBA workshop as well as follow-up meetings with members and displays and demonstrations.DTT and DR were exhibited and displayed at the Media Tech show and the SABC new Media Exhibit.

SADIBA prepared and submitted a written response to the ICASA draft Frequency plan for 2001 that requested inputs on digital broadcasting frequencies for both DTT and DAB.

Membership of the association grew with UEC and M-Net Broadcast Services joining during 2001.  The SADIBA Web-site was maintained and the latest information on the local pilot broadcasts as well as the workshop and the recommendations released, was made available. The highest number of impressions on the web-site was over the Workshop period with 1045 impressions being registered for July 2001.

Email subscription services were established allowing members access to relevant and up to date information on the specific focus area subscribed to.
The SADIBA Chairperson represented the association at the WorldDAB General Assembly in Belgium.
Technical achievements by SADIBA members in 2001 included:The establishment of Africa’s first Single Frequency Network (SFN) with the expansion of the Sentech Digital Radio DAB pilot
transmissions to Pretoria 28 June 2001.

Orbicom Commenced DTT trials over Johannesburg in November 2001.

Sentech Conducted mobile DTT demonstrations and coverage measurements.

By: Mongameli Jabavu

Digitalisation has changed how broadcasters conduct their business. It has enabled both public and privately owned broadcasters to shift their thinking about what to sell, how to sell it, and to whom to sell. In Southern Africa for example, these assumptions have created an inextricable link between people/customers and broadcasting. Furthermore, digitalisation has revolutionised Broadcasting by giving viewers and listeners more choice. In fact the new
environment places enormous challenges to both regulators and managers to involve civil society in evolving new ways of seeing and listening. Digital broadcasting in Africa for example is in a better position to grow and diversify the industry and open the doors for new entrants.

Not to mention the Internet, satellite broadcasting alone offers viewers and listeners news and information from remote areas where terrestrial and free-to air signals do not reach. Digital/satellite broadcasting does not only guarantee viewers and listeners better picture and sound quality but offers choice and interactivity as well.

In this respect co-operation between Southern Africa Digital Broadcasting AssociationSADIBA) and Southern Africa Broadcasters Association(SABA) will form the basis for digitalisation in the Southern Africa Development Community(SADC) region. The co-operation will definitely accelerate endeavours towards an agreement on systems and standards for digital broadcasting in the region.

The difference between SADIBA and SABA is only marginal and should not blur our vision for a more integrated approach to broadcasting in the region. SADIBA promotes a digitalised environment which in itself drives the opening up of the airwaves and the liberalisation of the broadcasting environment. SABA the other hand
represents the interests of both privately and publicly owned broadcasters in the SADC region and their publics.

The co-operation/partnership of SADIBA and SABA will also make sure that the systems and standards to be adopted for a digitalised environment take into consideration issues of domestic/local content, investment and ownership. The partnership will also narrow the gap between those who see the broadcasting environment as a 'cultural industry' and those who consider it as part of the 'entertainment business'. Ultimately, a positive outcome would be to achieve a greater consensus among broadcasters from all sectors of broadcasting, including community broadcasters.

Mongameli Jabavu works for Channel Africa and is a member of SADIBA.

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