Advanced Television

Digital TV ‘chaos’ in South Africa

December 12, 2012

By Chris Forrester

Certain pressure groups are complaining that South Africa is rushing to switch off its analogue TV signals too soon. The biggest complaint is that decoder boxes are too expensive for many sectors of the viewing public, and that local businesses are being denied access to the new technology and the jobs which could flow from digital TV.

South Africa’s digital switch-over should have already started but has again been delayed until early-to-mid 2013.  The groups, which include the Black Business Council (BBC), the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers of Electronic Components (Namec) and the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services.

South Africa’s Business Report is reporting that at the heart of their complaint is the appointment of Sentech, the state-owned signal distributor, by the government, to manage the conditional access to the decoders. Sentech is using a conditional access system supplied by Nagravision.

Keith Thabo, the chairman of Namec, said that the government was ill-advised about the benefits of using Nagravision on future job creation and enterprise development. The business groups claim that they met with Nagravision about three months ago, during which meeting the Swiss company allegedly informed the manufacturers that it would charge a royalty fee of about $43 (R374) a decoder that its system was inserted into.

Ziggi Zaman, a member of the BBC, said: “The very principle of this project was to support the broad-based black economic empowerment businesses… to participate in producing these decoders.”

Sibongile Dukashe, a member of the BBC, said bidders for the local manufacturing of the decoders only became aware of the requirement for manufacturers to be Nagravision compliant three weeks before the closing date for the request for proposals in September.

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