Analogue switch off delayed again

The switching off of the nation’s analogue television broadcasting system has been delayed again, amid state of emergency delays and to ensure students can continue learning remotely for the duration of coronavirus restrictions. 

The Minister of Communications, Information and Technology, Afamasaga Rico Tupai, said the switch , which was delayed from an initial plan of January until March, has been deferred again due to the coronavirus state of emergency. 

Afamasaga said given the current situation of schools temporary closure and people working from home it was only logical to defer the analogue switch off to allow people without access to digital televisions to continue participating in remote learning. 

Coverage of digital television across the nation also remains short of 100 per cent and a switch off would affect a lot of people, the Minister said. 

Members of the public can switch to digital T.V. by purchasing a digital box from available stores for $55 tala.

“If we turn it off now it would disrupt the learning of children from home and that not all families have the digital box,” said the Minister. 

“There are a lot of people affected by the coronavirus [restrictions and] there are financial implications on families who are unable to spare $50 tala for [a] digital box. 

“If we switch it off then we would be cutting off the country with a lot of critical information from public awareness and learning for students.” 

The Minister said that, to date, the digital platform coverage had 80 per cent coverage across the nation. 

Afamasaga said extra equipment remains needed so that the digital platform can be extended to reach all households in the country.  

“As you are aware there were delays because of the bad weather we had earlier this year and then we have had the shutdown [due to the coronavirus],” he said. 

“There was some equipment that was shipped from China but [we] are still waiting for it to fully operate…” 

The Minister added that the T.V. stations are meeting this week to make a proposal to the owner of Samoa Digital Communication Limited (S.D.C.L.) to waive $18,000 in monthly fees to access the digital platform as a form of relief for the duration of the state of emergency. 

The S.D.C.L. is overseeing Samoa’s switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting systems.

It was not possible to get a comment from S.D.C.L. Chairperson, Fa’amausili Andrew Ah Liki. 

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