South Africa unhappy with DTT take-off

South Africa’s communications minister Dina Pule is complaining about the time being taken to get digital TV off the ground, and conditional access installed, in the country.

“I am concerned about the slow progress of finalising the conditional access (matter)‚” Pule said at a workshop hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronic Components‚ which represents electronic manufacturers.  “The STB (set-top box) control implementation is in the hands of free-to-air broadcasters as per the court judgment‚” she said. “To date‚ we are awaiting the decision of broadcasters on the details of their approach to this.”

Pule was referring to legal squabbles with South Africa’s transmission monopoly Sentech, which had been granted the rights to supervise the nation’s CA system.

Public broadcaster SABC and a private network, eTV, say they finalising the set-top box control systems.  “Unfortunately attempts to expedite this with Sentech have proved difficult and the broadcasters are currently considering alternatives‚” e.tv said.

The migration to digital broadcasting has been delayed several times and there are now valid fears that South Africa might miss its June 2015 deadline to switch off the analogue signal.

Pule said that some sectors of the manufacturing industry were concerned that the system would drive up the cost of manufacturing the set-top boxes‚ affecting their business potential.  She added that the benefits of the control system for the government included limiting cross-border unauthorised use and theft.  “In addition‚ the system is designed to support communicating to the public in case of a disaster.”

She was adamant the commercial launch of digital television will happen this year despite the delays.

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