Advanced Television

South Africa: STB CA not mandatory

December 6, 2013

By Colin Mann

South Africa’s Cabinet has approved a number of amendments to the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy relating mainly to whether the set-top boxes required to achieve the migration should have a control system or not.  Among the criteria used  to decide on this were the following:

  • the need for speed on digital migration, especially to release radio frequency spectrum;
  • ensure that the government subsidy is used productively;
  • stimulate the local electronics industry and create jobs;
  • benefit emerging entrepreneurs;
  • reduce prospects of the South African market being flooded by cheap Set Top Boxes (STBs) that are not fully functional;
  • protect the interests of the SABC;
  • be sensitive to rapid changes in the broadcasting and ICT sector as a whole;
  • reduce the extent of monopolisation and encourage competition by creating space for new players in the pay television market without unfairly benefiting from the Government subsidy;
  • reduce the prospects of legal action from broadcasters and entrepreneurs that would hold-up the migration process.

Taking these and other criteria together, the Cabinet decided that the use of a control system should not be mandatory. The STBs will, however, have a control system to protect the Government’s investment in the subsidised STB market and the local electronics industry and, with rapid technological changes, for future use by broadcasters who might not want to use it now.
To avoid subscription broadcasters unfairly benefiting from the STB control system, the government’s investment in the STB Control System will be recovered from those subscription broadcasters that choose to make use of the STB Control system.
The Cabinet urges all parties to move on from their previous differences and work together with the government in rolling out digital migration as soon as possible in the country’s interests.


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