Sentech’s failure to better encrypt its signal to prevent pirate viewing in Botswana, is damaging business for e.tv’s sister channel, the high court in Johannesburg heard on Thursday.
Representing eBotswana, advocate Steven Budlender said pirate viewing of SABC channels in Botswana also resulted in a loss of advertising for the channel. He said eBotswana had suffered damages because of “unlawful competition”.
Although the SABC had no licence to broadcast in Botswana, a recent survey indicated it was the most watched service in that country, he said.
The channel wants Sentech to put sufficient encryption in its satellite transmission to stop the SABC from being viewed. Budlender said Sentech had failed in its undertakings to parliament that it would upgrade encryption by March 2011. “Sentech is not providing any explanation for failure to comply. This is a deafening silence.”
The SABC signal was being pirated off Sentech’s Vivid bouquet with the use of a satellite receiver commonly referred to as the Philiboa.
eBotswana is a licensed free-to-air terrestrial television station based in Gaborone, Botswana.
The court heard that Sentech’s system was hacked in 2004. It has since improved its technology, preventing further hacking.
The new encryption system was, however, still not being used for the SABC, because Sentech claims the cost to implement this was too high.
The matter, before judge Brian Spilg, continues on Friday. — Sapa