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Despite several delays and postponements in its quest to switch off analogue TV transmissions, South Africa’s senior ministerial officials now insist that digital TV implementation is close.
SA’s Department of Communications spokesman Mish Molakeng, speaking ahead of minister Faith Muthambi’s budget vote on May 5th, said the department was hopeful the migration would be completed by the end of 2017. The giant – but sparsely populated – Northern Cape would be the first to be wholly converted to digital TV by July this year, he said.
“We are continuing and we are on the ground every other week to educate people on the migration process. The deadlines are tight. There is a consensus among the Southern African Development Community ministers that the countries in the region should complete this process by the end of next year,” Molakeng said.
However, there are problems and they extend beyond the straightforward technical changes. The most pressing is a legal action that’s moved from the country’s High Court to its Supreme Court and where a commercial broadcaster ‘e-tv’ could mount an appeal against the country’s DTT policy.
The risk is that the government’s encryption strategy for the nation’s authorised set-top boxes could be modified, or reversed. E-tv is arguing that the minister concerned had exceeded her powers, did not consult relevant stakeholders and that her decision was unreasonable.