E-tv takes minister to court over digital TV

E-tv is filing an application in the High Court in Gauteng to review aspects of the Broadcasting Digital Migration policy finalised by the Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi.

E-tv said that at issue is:

  1. A provision of the policy which states that the government subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) shall not have the capability to encrypt broadcast signals.
  2. A provision which states the STB Control system shall be non-mandatory.

E-tv has asked that the first provision be set aside and the second provision be amended.

The broadcaster said the effect of the judgment in 2012 (where E-tv successfully challenged then Minister of Communications Dina Pule’s appointment of Sentech to operate the STB Control system) is that it is unlawful for the minister to make decisions on critical technical issues that affect free-to-air broadcasters.

“The Minister and Cabinet have repeatedly stated that they wished to respect the right of individual broadcasters to decide for themselves whether to encrypt their signals. However, the effect of the Policy is precisely the opposite,” said E-tv chief operating officer Mark Rosin.

“What E-tv seeks to ensure is that the BDM Policy does not prevent us making our own decision regarding encryption of our broadcast signal.”

E-tv said it is essential that it is able to encrypt its broadcast signal, because it would prevent non-compliant STBs from receiving digital broadcast signals, thereby ensuring a uniform and reliable viewer experience.

Without a platform that conforms to standards, broadcasters such as E-tv would be unable to provide broadcasts in high definition, it said.

E-tv stated its application must be dealt with urgently, so the digital migration process can begin and conclude as soon as possible.

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E-tv takes minister to court over digital TV