The Democratic Alliance has welcomed news that the ANC has opted for encryption for the digital set-top boxes that will be subsidised by government for up to 5m poorer households.
The decision, which will reportedly be communicated to cabinet by communications minister Faith Muthambi, will pave the way for the long-delayed digital migration process to resume, DA MP Marian Shinn said in a statement.
“The decision to encrypt set-top boxes puts the process of digital migration back to where it was a year ago, before President Jacob Zuma split the former department of communications in two, causing a turf war over the process between two cabinet ministers after the 2014 general election,” Shinn said.
Two of South Africa’s big broadcasters, pay-TV operator MultiChoice and free-to-air provider e.tv, have been warring for a number of years over encryption in the boxes. MultiChoice argues it amounts to unfair competition, while e.tv says it’s necessary to protect and grow the free-to-air sector.
Shinn says migration has been held up for the past year because of a turf war between Muthambi and telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele over who should manage the digital migration project.
“Late last year, a legislative tangle was created as clauses of various acts were shuffled between the two ministries, giving executive authority over anything to do with broadcasting to the minister of communications,” said Shinn.
“One is left to speculate what vested interests were at play to cause the year-long delay in approving minor adjustments to the broadcasting digital migration policy. It caused incalculable financial costs to the broadcasting sector, the electronics manufacturers who have invested in anticipation of being included in the programme, and the Internet-based sector that will expand once the broadcast spectrum that is hogged by analogue broadcasting is released.” — © 2015 NewsCentral Media
- See also: ANC said to favour TV encryption