South Africa’s Department of Communications (DoC) has met with the country’s free to air broadcasters in a bid to get the process of implementing digital terrestrial television (DTT) back on track.

In a statement, the department said: “Broadcasters made their independent recommendations to the DoC and the DoC is now reviewing all the input and will decide on the way forward.

“[We are] pleased with the level of engagement from all the parties and the importance they attached to ensuring that DTT avoids unnecessary delays. We remain committed to engaging the industry and are open to meeting the broadcasters at an earlier date should that be necessary.”

The latest setback to digital migration in South Africa occurred with the challenging of a high court decision, in which the communications minister, Dina Pule, was found to have unlawfully awarded encryption control over set-top boxes to the state-controlled broadcasting signal distributor, Sentech.

The court granted broadcasters, including the South African Broadcasting Corporation and commercial terrestrial channel the right to control conditional access in state-subsidised set-top boxes (decoders), subject to the industry regulator’s authority.

On 14 January the government decided to appeal the ruling. The minister’s spokesman, Siya Qoza, said in a statement that the decision to appeal was taken after “considering the implications of the judgment on other broadcasters, particularly potential broadcasters, in line with the broadcasting digital migration policy,” it was reported in

The appeal is likely to further slow a process that has suffered years of delays, including a lengthy debate over switching from a European digital standard to a Japanese-Brazilian option. Eventually the department reverted to the first alternative. South Africa’s deadline for transition to DTT, set by the International Telecommunications Union, is 2015.


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2 March 2013


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