Here’s how not to lose your TV signal as a low-income earner

Lodge applications urgently to minimise time your TV set will be dark

04 November 2021 - 08:02 By TimesLIVE
Low income earners are encouraged by Sapo to apply to receive a decoder for free before the analogue television signal is switched off.
Low income earners are encouraged by Sapo to apply to receive a decoder for free before the analogue television signal is switched off.
Image: 123RF/Marco Ciannarel

Households earning less than R3,500 a month can get a free TV decoder to access a range of music, education and news channels after SA moves to digital broadcasting from analogue next year, but there are a few rules.

SA plans to complete the migration to digital broadcasting by March 31. The analogue television signal will be switched off and only digital television transmissions will be broadcast. Analogue television sets will then only work if they are connected to a decoder.

The government-subsidised TV decoder can be obtained from the SA Post Office, which is urging qualifying households to visit their branch as soon as possible to lodge their applications.

The decoder, also called a set-top box, is free for low-income households — provided you can produce:

  • A SA identity document.
  • Proof of address.
  • An affidavit to confirm that the family has a working television set.
  • A bank statement or affidavit to confirm that the family income is R3,500 per month or less. 

Sapo explained: “The post office branches have standard affidavits that the applicants can use to declare their income, to confirm that they own a working television set, and to confirm their residential address. You do not need to visit a police station to do an official affidavit before you go to the post office.

“If you receive a [government] grant, you do not need to bring proof of income. Proof that you receive a Sassa grant is enough.”

Once an application has been approved, the information is given to Sentech to appoint a local installer to install your set-top box.

Be warned: This may take time.

Sapo acknowledged that “some families registered for a set-top box at the beginning of the campaign, but the installation has not been done yet”.

It said installations are done per province and appointment of local installers is done by Sentech via local municipalities.

TV channels offered via the set-top box are: SABC 1-2-3, SABC Sport, Education, Encore, News, the parliament feed, Africa Magic Epic, Mzansi Bioskop, M Movies 4, Mzansi Wethu, S Sport Blitz, SS Select sport, Discovery TLC, Disney JNR, Nick Toons, Mzansi Music, Channel O, Dumisa, M-Net Go, and 790 CSN.

Radio stations offered are: Radio 2000, Metro, Good Hope, RSG, 04 Channel Africa, 5FM, Lesedi Fm, Lotus, Ukhozi, SAFM, Umhlobo Wenene, Thobela, Metsweding, Munghana Lonene, Phalaphala, Ligwalagala, Ikwekwezi, TruFM FM, and X K FM.