A second meeting between free-to-air broadcasters and the Department of Communications (DoC) may have provided progress in reaching a solution to the set-top box dispute which is threatening to delay the digital migration.
HumanIPO reported in December the High Court of South Gauteng ruled in favour of free-to-air broadcaster e.tv because Communications Minister Dina Pule overreached her powers by awarding set-top box controls to state-owned Sentech.
Pule then lodged an appeal against the ruling and the DoC warned that South Africa would miss the internationally agreed 2015 deadline for digital migration if the High Court ruling that free-to-air broadcasters are to control the set-top boxes was not overturned. e.tv rubbished the claims.
Following e.tv’s high court victory and the second meeting on Monday, January 28, the DoC said in a statement the meeting resulted in a “meaningful engagement” with the free-to-air broadcasters promising to review “the options available to fast-tracking the implementation of digital terrestrial television”.
According to the DoC, all parties involved agreed ICASA is a “key player” in establishing certainty regarding digital migration. It said: “ICASA committed itself to fulfilling all its responsibilities within its mandate.”
The DoC said broadcasters who attended the meeting had submitted independent recommendations. The department will now take the recommendations into consideration through a review process before embarking on what action to take to go forward despite Pule’s leave for appeal.
The DoC said it was pleased with the “level of engagement” during the second meeting because it demonstrated the realisation of importance by those involved to see no further delays caused to digital migration.