Parliament Sitting on 6 November 2017
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
11. Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) whether the 160,000 low-income households identified for the Digital TV Assistance Scheme are equipped and ready for digital TV broadcasting; and (b) whether the Ministry plans to take further actions to facilitate digital TV adoption in Singapore before analogue broadcasting is phased out.
It is important that Singaporeans can continue to access Mediacorp’s free-to-air channels (FTA) after analogue broadcasting is phased out, because these channels are freely accessible to all Singapore households and are a key source of news, information and entertainment in all four languages. Our FTA channels also carry Public Service Broadcast (PSB) programmes, which promote important societal values, celebrate our culture and heritage, and promote the Singapore identity. Today, about three in four Singapore households are already receiving Mediacorp’s DTV channels either over the air, or through their Pay TV subscription.
2 To help low income households migrate to DTV before analogue broadcasting is phased out, the then-Media Development Authority (now the Info-communications Media Development Authority, or IMDA) introduced the Digital TV Assistance Scheme (DTVAS) in September 2014. The DTVAS provides low income households with a free digital set-top box and indoor antenna, as well as free installation, to allow them to use their existing television sets to receive DTV. Since the launch of the DTVAS, IMDA has sent out notification letters to over 139,000 eligible households. As of 17 October 2017, about 64,000 DTVAS packages have been deployed, benefiting roughly one in two eligible households.
3 IMDA is intensifying its outreach efforts to reach out to the remaining households who have not responded to the notification letters. Beyond intensive door-knock exercises, IMDA is also working with the grassroots, voluntary welfare organisations and senior activity centres to increase DTVAS awareness. Monthly DTV roadshows in the heartlands and booths in community events organised by the Citizens’ Consultative Committees and Residents’ Committees are also being organised. In addition, messages on analogue TV switch-off and DTV have been included in dialect programmes on Mediacorp channels, such as “Jiak Ba Buay” on Channel 8, to raise awareness amongst senior citizens.
4 We recognise that ramping up efforts to increase awareness of DTV is necessary but not sufficient. Hence, we will be doing more. IMDA will shift the analogue TV switch-off date from end-2017 to end-2018. The extension will provide the public an additional year to switch over to DTV. The end-2018 date will also be more aligned to our neighbours’ (i.e. Malaysia and Indonesia) plans for analogue TV switch-off. This is relevant because the full benefits of freeing up spectrum from analogue TV switch-off can be reaped only when the region moves on this at the same time.
5 At the same time, IMDA is also studying enhancements to the DTVAS with a view to assisting more HDB Singaporean households adopt DTV. IMDA will announce the enhancements to the DTVAS early next year.
6 We remain committed to improving Singapore’s digital readiness and enabling households to continue receiving PSB programmes upon analogue TV switch-off by 2018.