ANC to meet Muthambi over set-top boxes - TechCentral

ANC to meet Muthambi over set-top boxes

Faith Muthambi

Faith Muthambi

The ANC plans to hold an urgent meeting with communications minister Faith Muthambi over set-top box encryption.

Up to 5m subsidised boxes are planned to be given to poorer households, but debate has raged over whether to encrypt these devices or not.

Free-to-air broadcaster and the Democratic Alliance have called for encryption to prevent non-compliant boxes from receiving digital broadcast signals as well as to protect high-quality content.

On the other hand, the SABC and pay-TV provider MultiChoice have said that encryption will cost the state more in rolling out subsidised boxes.

Muthambi has sided with the SABC and MultiChoice on encryption, a move that has prompted the ANC’s communications subcommittee chairman, Jackson Mthembu, to call for a meeting with Muthambi. Mthembu made the call at the ANC’s national general council meeting at the weekend.

According to a report in the Business Day newspaper, Muthambi went against her party on encryption. “The meeting is urgent,” Mthembu said by phone on Monday.

“Yes, we are going to meet with her so that we get exactly what the intentions are and whether we’ll be able to achieve what we wanted to achieve as the ANC and for the people of South Africa,” Mthembu said.

South Africa has already missed a June 2015 deadline from the International Telecommunication Union to switch over to digital broadcasts.

The process, though, finally kicked off in the Northern Cape earlier this month with households around the Square Kilometre Array project receiving subsidised set-top boxes.

Meanwhile, also lost a bid to reverse Muthambi’s decision on encryption in the Gauteng high court earlier this year. has filed papers for leave to appeal the judgment.  — Fin24


  1. The ANC is right to investigate the deal between SABC and Multichoice. Multichoice also tried to remove the return path on set top boxes a couple of years ago. MC convinced then Minister Dina Pule to remove to return path to benefit DSTV services. The SA Communications Forum acted quickly and the Minister had to back a return path once again.
    Same now with Conditional Access. Multichoice signed an “illegal” contract with SABC not to use conditional access. Again to benefit DSTV only.
    SABC and its viewers are the biggest losers here. They will never be able to watch blockbuster or newly released movies without conditional access to protect copyright materials.
    The local production companies are also missing protection of their materials.
    ANC should find the real reasons behind the Minister’s move.

  2. Not true. The return path works via any cellphone signal, ADSL, fibre, wireless internet or any other upcoming comms.

  3. Not true. Cellphone technology comes at no charge at all. Look at Please Call Me technology.

  4. Andrew Fraser on

    Are you purposely being obtuse or genuinely ignorant? In what world does ‘please call me’ have no charge?

  5. Andrew. People with no money on their cellphones can send a “Plse call me” to someone with airtime on his phone to call back.
    Is that not FREE of charge in your books?

  6. Andrew Fraser on

    No. It isn’t free. It’s a cross-subsidised service from the mobile network operator. Prepared to waive the cost of an SMS because the resulting call delivers revenue.

    Somebody has to finance the bandwidth for a return path. Fairly sure that the broadcasters won’t, consumer won’t, and government can’t afford to.

  7. Andrew – it is obvious that you were not at the Media Function of SA Communication Forum. You are unaware of the role Telkom, MTN, Vodacom, etc will play. What do you think is the role and interests of all SA Comm Forum Members?

  8. Some historic info: “The SA Communications Forum (SACF), an industry lobby group that has been pushing hard for a return path to be included in the boxes, praised the minister’s decision, saying it would provide Internet access “for the masses of economically marginalised South Africans”.

    The SACF contends that the inclusion of Internet access in the set-top box specification requirements is “the best opportunity to bridge the digital divide” and says it wishes to “congratulate the minister for her strong leadership in grasping this once-off opportunity”.

    “This decision means that SA, which had been lagging behind in Internet penetration on the continent, will move swiftly ahead in its goals to achieve universal access and ICT competitiveness.”

  9. I never got many “plse call mes”, but the ones I got were accompanied by an ad from an insurance which I presumed paid for the service.

  10. Yes – there are many ways to make a Return Path on a set top box work. From a sponsored type of “please call me” or an advertisement plus normal airtime or data. Those without money on their cellphones can still benefit from sponsored or ad driven comms.

  11. Andrew Fraser on

    I don’t think you understand business. The mobile network customers are already funding the DTT project. There’s no way that they’re sponsoring the govt with bandwidth.

    Also, why do consumers need a stupid tv box for internet when a smartphone does more, faster, and costs less?

  12. Andrew Fraser on

    7 years ago that might have almost been true. Now the digital divide is much more likely to be breached by mobile technology.

  13. All advertisers saw the potential and business sense in adding adverts with “please call me” messages. The same is happening in all countries with set top boxes equipped with a return path.
    A return path on a set top box makes sense. Ask all those who are using it. People can interact with their TV screens. It’s cool. Who wants to watch movies on the small screen? Smart TV’s are in. Young and old are loving it.

  14. The Emperor has no clothes... on

    I developed both the concept and the business model for PCM. Your comments make it painfully obvious that you have zero knowledge of the product, technology, or application. And, as noted by Andrew Fraser, you obviously have zero understanding of how business works.

  15. The Emperor has no clothes... on

    Have you not realised that in this model ‘someone’ pays? Just because Party A gets the service for free doesn’t mean that it’s actually free. In the case of PCM the primary business case is that Party B often returns the call and therefore ensures call completion i.e. revenue. The ‘free’ tag-on is simply gravy and is often not even directly monetised.

  16. Hi Emperor – it is clear that you have not been exposed to DVB-S2 or T2 set top boxes with 3G? Set top boxes with 3G and/or ethernet ports plus Wi Fi are becoming more and more popular.
    Just Google and you’ll find hundreds of these set top boxes with comms from many suppliers.
    Most people can afford cellphone airtime. If they have airtime they can use 3G or Wi Fi or ethernet.
    Those without airtime can be contacted by any company, government or advertiser. That is common practise and happens millions of times each day.
    So – a return path is easy to use.

  17. Dear Emperor – it is obvious that you have never used a prepaid return envelope before. In this digital age we are using the same method to transfer money or airtime to another user. Any company or advertiser can transfer airtime to clients cellphones.
    You see so often competitions by Coca Cola, Kit Kat and many other products offering people airtime in exchange for returning a SMS.
    So – it is extremely easy to use a 3G card in a set top box.

  18. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    You are an absolute idiot dreamer, who is not only clueless about DVB-S2 or T2 set top boxes with 3G; as well as business and the broadcast industry particularly when it concerns the SA market –

    An undeniable fact pal, that has become blatantly evident from most of your commentary here on TC –

    This is sound advice from someone with over 2 decades of experience in this industry;

    Go and find something else to pursue…

    When you finally make your minds up to finance your commercial CA aspirations yourselves, together with your friends; you would be well advised to note that your R399 STB that you always keep trolling about here on TC, will become instantly unaffordabily pricey when your friends; that you so dearly love in Randburg counter with their own response.

    You are living in some dreamland wherein you are seemingly unaware that it is very much possible for Multichoice to subsidize their STBs and even offer them for free; and the fact is – like it or not, the market overwhelmingly wants access to Multichoice’s content offering;

    …and there’s absolutely no hope for a clueless clown like yourself in this business given all the garbage you keep ranting on about.

    Just like it was possible for a Larry Page & Sergey Brin to come up with a search engine that eclipsed the dominant Yahoo… it is still very much possible for someone to take-on the mighty Multichoice;

    …but that person is neither you nor your friends and your antics as well as knowledge of this industry are a testament to just how pathetic of an opponent you and your friends are to the likes of a Multichoice.

  19. Vusi – watch that brain cell please. MyMultichoice is corrupting your common sense.
    Fact remains that set top boxes have become more and not less. Set top boxes come with 3G/4G, Wi Fi and ethernet. Set top boxes are now part of the home networks.
    Connected set top boxes will become like cellphones. Everyone will have them.

  20. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    Fact remains that you are just too clueless about this business and the SA market to be able to position yourself in a meaningful way that will offer any serious competition to Multichoice.

    When On Digital launched their Top TV offering, one of the companies running the more successful of the locally commissioned channels had consulted with me to get the channel up and running and I warned them that in 3years time they would need to find something else to pursue.

    I also remarked to you, right here on TC that your friends would need to take their OVHD offering onto the Freevision platform because that SES5 platform would not work out;

    …and I bet that you and your friends, in hindsight; now wish that you still had Dina Pule and regret having taken up that ridiculous stance with Sentech over their Nagravision CA in the first place.

    Now once again… from someone who knows this industry pal, you are not the kind of person that stands out as knowledgeable enough and neither astute enough to successfully be able to take on a Multichoice.

    You come across as even more pathetic than those clowns who desperately went the route of attempting to have porn channels in an bid to save their venture into this business where dreamers like yourself will always get crushed by the likes of a Multichoice.

  21. Vusi – you claim that you are the only boffin in the digital television industry? You know the best?
    It is weird that you do not see the value of a return path?
    It is shocking that you do not see the value of conditional access on the Sentech/SABC terrestrial network?

  22. Vusi – you must wake up. Your MyANC is fed up with Muthambi. Maybe I am more in touch with MyANC than you?

    “An ongoing fight between Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and her bosses in the ANC has been brought to the attention of President Jacob Zuma, with ruling party officials questioning why Zuma did not fire Muthambi following a recommendation to do so by a deployment committee.

    According to a report in the City Press, discussions at the ANC’s recent national general council saw communications subcommittee head Jackson Mthembu publicly criticize Muthambi for not consulting with the ANC about digital migration policy decisions.

    South Africa committed to an international deadline of June 2015 for its digital terrestrial television switch, which the country did not meet – partly due to Muthambi’s stance over encrypted set-top boxes.

    The report states that Muthambi’s job hangs in the balance, not only due to her statements around digital migration, but her close relationship with SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

  23. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    …really is funny that you like Shinn know so much about the ANC and yet you can’t get the DA to do as well as the ANC at the polls;

    …go play your silly games with you juDAs kind; and I’m sure there’s a tabloid out there where you can share your meaningless thumb suck stories.

  24. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    Learn to understand English…

    …there is a value proposition for CA and I would consider Multichoice to be far greater of an expert than the clueless idiot Antonio on the subject – FTA services are exactly that Free-to-Air.

    If you feel you need CA on FTA signals then pay for it yourself… the very successful boffins at Multichoice also hold the same position Mr digital television industry Einstein.

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