On 14 January South Africa’s Department of Communications (DoC) met with public service broadcaster SABC, free-to-air commercial broadcaster e.tv and other free-to-air broadcasters to consider the implications of implementing the recent South Gauteng High Court decision to grant broadcasters the right to control conditional access in state-subsidised set-top boxes (STBs), subject to regulator ICASA’s authority.
The STBs are required for the country’s impending migration to digital terrestrial television (DTT).
A DoC statement reads: As per the court decision, the implementation of digital migration could be delayed by up to three years if stakeholders do not manage the matter with the necessary care and urgency. Such a scenario would mean that South Africa would only implement digital migration long after the International Telecommunication Union deadline of June 2015.
The parties yesterday agreed to consider all options available in order to ensure a speedy implementation of the digital migration programme. These discussions centred on finding ways that will deliver STBs to the market and provide much needed jobs this year. Broadcasters agreed to make their independent recommendations to the DoC by 28 January.
Among the proposals the parties are considering are ways of ensuring that the STB manufacturing tender, which is affected by the high court decision, is finalised without delay, with due regard to the National Treasury regulations.
The DoC is committed to engaging the industry and is open to meeting the broadcasters at an earlier date should that be necessary.