Digital Migration 2015 target could be missed by three years – South African government

The Department of Communications (DoC) in South Africa has warned the country will miss the internationally agreed deadline to migrate to digital signal by 2015 if the South Gauteng High Court ruling is put into action.

Officials from the department met with representatives from SABC, e.tv and free-to-air broadcasters on Monday to discuss the implications of allowing them to control access to state-subsidised set-top-boxes.

The set-top-boxes are a keen component needed for the move from analogue to digital signal with every household needing one to receive television programming once the switchover is complete.

A statement from the DoC after the meeting said: “As per the court decision, the implementation of digital migration could be delayed by up to three years if stakeholders do not manage the matter with the necessary care and urgency. Such a scenario would mean that South Africa would only implement digital migration long after the International Telecommunications Union deadline of June 15 [2015].”

HumanIPO reported on Monday (January 14) that the High Court of South Gauteng ruled Communications Minister Dina Pule acted beyond her powers by awarding the control of state-subsidised decoders to state-owned Sentech. Pule will appeal against the High Court’s ruling to grant free-to-air broadcasters control of the digital set-top boxes.

“The parties yesterday agreed to consider all options available in order to ensure a speedy implementation of the digital migration programme,” added the DoC.

Discussions also identified the means in which to deliver the set-top boxes to the market as well as delivering “much needed” jobs in 2013.

“Among the proposals the parties are considering ways of ensuring that the set-top-box manufacturing tender, which is affected by the high court decision, is finalised without delay; with due regard to the National Treasury regulations,” said the DoC.

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