Singapore: Low-income households not ready to switch to digital TV

Free-to-play TV has been announced, extended until January 1, 2019.

Three years after the Singaporean government issued an order to stop using the traditional analogue television, about half of low-income households in the country seem to be reluctant to make a switch to digital broadcasts. In a recent announcement made in Parliament, households with analogue TVs only have 14 months to replace them.

The readiness of families under the poverty threshold in Singapore has been put in question following the government data, which shows that around half of more than 139,000 low-income households were able to comply with the order.

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Although the government has been helping these citizens through the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), there seems to be a lot to be done in terms of encouraging the remaining numbers to make the switch to digital TV. It has been announced that Free-to-play TV is extended until January 1, 2019.

The government is now doubling down on its efforts to push the move from analogue TV to digital broadcasts with only a year of extension. The original deadline of the switch was January 2017.

The move began in December 2013 when Mediacorp digitalised all seven of its free-to-air TV channels. Their analogue formats will go on until 2019 only.

Despite the clear unpreparedness of some citizens, government officials are positive that they will hit the mark with a year more to go before the new deadline.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim says it is crucial that these low-income households be able to access Mediacorp's channels once the traditional TV channels are gone. He adds these channels have programmings that encourage the Singaporean spirit.

According to Ibrahim, low-income households are those people living in one or two-room rental flats who have a monthly income of S$1,900 and below or a yearly property value of S$13,000 or lower.