Jan 2022 edition

Apply now for your free TV decoder

Written by Allison Cooper

South Africa’s analogue television (TV) transmission will be switched off at the end of March 2022, and those who don’t have a decoder will be unable to watch TV.

According to Johan Kruger, the spokesperson for the South African Post Office (SAPO), qualifying households can still apply for their free TV decoder, also known as a set-top box.

To qualify for a free decoder, you must have a working TV set and your family’s income must be less than R3 500 a month.

Why do I need a decoder?

Kruger explains that the country’s free TV channels currently use an old-fashioned signal, called an analogue signal.

“This signal uses a huge amount of data and is prone to interference – often the picture flickers. These signals can also cause interference with TV transmissions in South Africa's neighbouring countries,” he says.

The new digital signal takes up only a small amount of space. Instead of four free TV channels (SABC1, 2, 3 and eTV), those who have a decoder will have access to over 20 free TV channels. Best of all, they will also have access to all the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s radio stations in the country.

If you have a DStv, Open View high definition or StarSat decoder, you do not need a set-top box as these decoders are already suitable for digital TV.

How to apply

To apply you must visit your closest SAPO branch and complete the application.

“It is not possible to apply for the decoder online,” Kruger says.

Those who qualify must apply as soon as possible and take the following with them:

  • South African 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: or proof that you receive a South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grant. If you receive a SASSA grant, you do not need to provide proof of income.

The SAPO branches have standard affidavits that applicants can use to declare their income, confirm that they own a working television set and confirm their residential address.

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

For more information, contact the SAPO via SMS (31133), call 0860 111 502, email customer.services@postoffice.co.za or follow on Twitter: @PostofficeSA or Facebook: @PostofficeSA.

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