Control systems for SA set-top boxes will not be mandatory

Control systems for SA set-top boxes will not be mandatory

CC image courtesy of D'hendrawan on Flickr

The South African government has decided the use of control systems for set-top boxes in the upcoming digital migration will not be mandatory, taking into account the need for speed in the migration process and to encourage industry competition.

HumanIPO reported last month no decision had yet been made on whether set-top boxes would include a conditional access system, a matter which communications minister Yunus Carrim said still needed to be properly debated.

However, in a statement today the government announced a control system will be installed on set-top boxes, such that government subsidized units may be controlled in order to “protect government’s investment”.

The government added that broadcasters may in the future opt to start using control systems, also prompting the decision to have the systems in place on the units.

The government’s costs in installing the control system on units will be recuperated from subscription broadcasters who opt to make use of the system.

Aside from the need to make headway on digital migration – the government highlighting in particular the urgency to release radio frequency spectrum – the statement said the decision was also fuelled by the potential for legal action from broadcasters should a control system be mandatory, thus further delaying the migration.

The government also highlighted the need to stimulate the local electronics industry and create jobs, to promote competition in the industry and cut down on the possibility of monopolisation of the market, as well as supporting entrepreneurs in the country, as key factors in the decision.

It added that the interests of government and of state owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) also needed to be protected in the decision-making process.

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