TV policy will 'devastate' manufacturing: claim - TechCentral

TV policy will ‘devastate’ manufacturing: claim

Faith Muthambi

Faith Muthambi

Industry lobby group the South African Communications Forum (SACF) has warned that government’s current amended broadcasting digital migration policy, released in March, will set back the local electronics manufacturing industry and add further delays to the digital terrestrial television migration process.

The forum says the amended policy is “confusing and contradictory” and “in conflict with the set-top box standard as set out in Sans 862”. The Sans 862 standard was developed by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) to set out the specifications of set-top boxes to be used in South Africa’s digital TV project.

Developing a new standard could take up to 18 months.

The SACF supports the use of the encryption system in the set-top boxes, which has now been abandoned in government’s final broadcasting migration policy.

Among the contradictions the SACF mentions is that the policy calls for a “robust control system”, yet further states that the control system “will be non-mandatory” and will “not have capabilities to encrypt broadcast signals for the subsidised set-top boxes”.

The forum wants clarity from government on this position. It says that “these different policy pronouncements are contradictory, ambiguous, will not meet government’s objectives in implementing digital migration and will devastate our electronics manufacturing industry”.

It says, too, that the use of a “Mux verification” security feature is “not regarded as set-top box control”. Rather, it is “reception restriction”.

The SABS had decided against the use of Mux verification as it is not stringent enough and can be easily hacked and have new software installed, the forum says. The set-top boxes would be easy to reuse outside the borders of South Africa, according to the SACF.

Speaking to TechCentral at a South African Digital Broadcasting Association conference on Friday, communications minister Faith Muthambi said Sans 862 will not have to be changed.

Former ministerial advisor Roy Kruger told TechCentral recently that the current standard calls for all set-top boxes to have a control system, “not the verification or security system that the minister has called for”, which effectively means “the standard will have to be changed if they want to implement the new policy”.

The acting director-general for the department of communications Norman Munzhelele says the SACF had not raised its concerns with the department since the release of the policy. He says government’s response will follow.  — © 2015 NewsCentral Media


  1. Chicky Lambar on

    Again another faction with no qualifications to justify their claims? Please can anyone at the SACF tell me who as ever designed or manufactured an STB before?

  2. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>The forum wants clarity from government on this position. It says that “these different policy pronouncements are contradictory, ambiguous, will not meet government’s objectives in implementing digital migration and will devastate our electronics manufacturing industry”.

    Perhaps clarity will come with switch-on and the likes of Multichoice go to market with DTT STBs that meet the set-top box standard as set out in Sans 862; and those wanting a free ride on the 4.3bil gravy train can see the tax payer money for this ridiculous subsidy plan, being spent in court doing battle with shameless idiots that are displaying zero ability to reason…

    …exactly what is it that’s stopping anyone from paying for which ever robust CA they feel is suitable and including it?

  3. SACF should also not forget about the Return Path on set top boxes. Multichoice was also behind the indoctrination of Minister Dina Pule to remove the return path from the specifications a couple of years ago.
    The release of TV white spaces will bring along a lot of spectrum to be used for telecommunications and Internet.
    South Africa should move to Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV immediately.

  4. Greg Mahlknecht on

    >South Africa should move to Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV immediately.

    Not happening, so you can stop harping on it. Waste of everyone’s time.

    On the other hand, anyone who does deploy a CA box is more than welcome to include it.

  5. You are so wrong. Watch what SACF did a couple of years back. You can be sure that HbbTV is coming.

  6. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>You are so wrong.

    …and this coming from someone that’s been obviously so right about BDM all this time???

    >>You can be sure that HbbTV is coming.

    It’s been here for a while already but if you think government is going to be sponsoring your commercial interests then; take a good re-look at the gazetted amended policy which isn’t going to be changing anytime in the near future.

    No one is prevented from deploying such STBs and you can be sure that while you and your team are having an unsustainable battle with government in court; there will most definitely be HbbTV STBs coming to the SA market…

    …oh and there will also be iDTVs coming to market as well so plenty of people will be moving on whilst you continue with your old, sad, monotonous tune ;(

  7. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    BTW… remind me again about how Chinese backing of a DStv competitor will now be making a difference. Guess you weren’t able to foresee these “minor technical” issues cropping up and lasting this long given how sure you are of yourself in the very little knowledge that you have of this game.

  8. Let’s wait and see. We have seen previous Ministers made similar changes just to be challenged and changed again. Gov may or may not go ahead with STB’s according to original SANS 862. No one can fully guarantee the current decision.
    HbbTV is the way forward for SABC, eTV and all the new TV channels on DVB-T2.

  9. All bullshit! There IS a global standard, but they need it tweaked so that the local ‘industry’ can benefit, to the DETRIMENT of the consumer.
    Same thing happened with the cellphone industry, not adhering to an INTERNATIONAL standard..

  10. Vusumuzi Sibiya on

    >>No one can fully guarantee the current decision.

    This much can be guaranteed though – the amendments are gazetted and those who want to do battle with government can go ahead and those who want to do business in the industry, now have clarity and can go to market…

    …18 months is actually nothing when compared to the time that legal matters can be dragged out for in court – by then we’ll need to switch-off analogue signals and I’m quite certain that in that period there will have been more than enough take-up of available digital products in the SA market (most probably from the likes of Multichoice) to no longer warrant this subsidy plan.

    Dragged out even further we could eventually be saying good bye to ETV for good – now wouldn’t that be wonderful for prospective new entrants into the FTA TV space…

    …sometimes you need to know when to call it quits and focus on the core business that you’re involved in. The possibility of a legal battle with a decision in either direction had always been preempted – the question was who to do battle with.

    >>HbbTV is the way forward for SABC, eTV and all the new TV channels on DVB-T2.

    Most definitely and I am aware of a few HbbTV STBs that have been and are still being tested with exciting new applications that will transform the industry… government however, is not going to be sponsoring anyone’s commercial interests and as the STB manufacturers are going to discover;

    …the subsidy is for the benefit of 5mil poor households and there are going to be ways that ensure that this is the case more especially since all 26 bidders can now provide these STBs.

  11. The Digital Migration, as started in 2008, might have had initially someway still the average consumer at heart, but was already seriously ideologically and economically misguided to incorporate the idea that it should include up to 70% subsidy for 5 m STBs for poor households and totally state control of manufacturing and distribution of these decoders. This 70% subsidy is changed to complete freebies,includes sat decoders and aerials and dish installations.
    The way things were implemented and worked out in practice were totally disastrous. Even more now as a seriously technologically challenged minister of poopooganda, the Super spineless Zoomer stooge Faith is put in charge of the process.
    The costs whenever finished will have certainly be more than R 15 Billion. It will mostly serve our masters in Luthuli House, and will have enriched some manufacturers and installers.
    What do you mean by international standard for cellphones ?

  12. The network in SA is not 100% compliant to the GSM standard, that’s why they don’t like you to bring in phones that haven’t gone through the ‘official’ supply chains..
    A lot of foreigners have problems when they land here.
    All to do with the ‘base’ system apparently, which does not have enough cell-towers per km2.
    Now we must hear how expensive it is for the business to erect towers, but in Europe the density is much bigger and call costs seems to be on a par?

  13. Andrew Fraser on

    Er. No. SA network is 100% GSM compliant.
    The reason that networks don’t want you to bring in “non official” phones is that not all phones are compliant.

  14. William Stucke on

    Er, no.
    South Africa is in ITU Region 1. Phones from elsewhere in Africa, Europe or Russia are fine here.
    ‘Phones from the Americas (Region 2) or Asia (Region 3) are not. Regions 1, 2, and 3 have differences in which frequencies are valid where.

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