Digital TV: Cwele misses own deadline - TechCentral

Digital TV: Cwele misses own deadline

Siyabonga Cwele

Siyabonga Cwele

Telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele has missed a self-imposed deadline to publish government’s final policy on digital terrestrial television migration.

Cwele said in parliament in mid-July that he would publish the final policy within two weeks.

There is no reference to the digital TV policy in this week’s Government Gazette, published on Friday. The minister’s spokesman, Siya Qoza, says the broadcasting digital migration policy is “being finalised” and must still go through “cabinet processes”.

Cwele made his promise to publish the final policy at his department’s budget vote in parliament on 16 July.

He did not say how he intended to overcome the simmering dispute between MultiChoice and over whether set-top boxes should include encryption based on a control system.

MultiChoice wants the control system ditched, saying it amounts to an unfair subsidy to prospective pay-TV competitors through government’s plan to subsidise millions of set-top boxes for poorer households. Rival argues it is crucial to support free-to-air broadcasters, particularly when it comes to securing the latest international content.

Whatever direction the final policy takes on the matter, there is a high chance that one of the broadcasting groups will challenge it in court.

South Africa and most other countries have committed to the International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations, that they will have completed migration — including switching off analogue TV signals — by June 2015. But a series of delays now means it’s unlikely that South Africa will meet this deadline.

However, Cwele told parliament that it was his intention to meet the deadline. “Digital broadcasting migration has faced many challenges. The June 2015 deadline looms before us, and we dare not let our people down,” he said.

“I have taken a decision to move forward this broadcasting digital migration programme,” Cwele said. “By the end of this month, we intend to finalise the policy, which has been the subject of public consultation. We intend to gazette the final policy at the end of this month.”  — © 2014 NewsCentral Media

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