Give us free, unencrypted digital TV now

Multichoice, Act-SA and Namec published an open letter to communications minister Yunus Carrim, asking him to allow free, unencrypted digital terrestrial television to launch without any further delay.

According to the three parties the current position is that set-top boxes must include technology which is unnecessary and expensive, specifically encryption technology which is used to control access to TV services

“We have serious reservations about this – it has been almost universally rejected internationally, it will make the migration process more expensive and it is opposed by most South African broadcasters,” MultiChoice and others said in a press statement.

The full open letter to minister Carrim is provided below.

Dear Minister Carrim

For some time now, we have been involved in discussions with you and other stakeholders around your policy which seeks to regulate the migration of TV services from the current analogue broadcast system to digital.

Digital migration marks an exciting new phase in broadcasting (with great opportunities) and will have far reaching consequences for consumers, Government and broadcasters. The major impact will be on South African consumers.

Nearly 8 million analogue TV households will need a set-top box (“STB”) to allow older TV sets to receive the new digital signals.

Your position is that set-top boxes must include technology which is unnecessary and expensive, specifically encryption technology which is used to control access to TV services. We have serious reservations about this – it has been almost universally rejected internationally, it will make the migration process more expensive and it is opposed by most South African broadcasters.

Including this technology in every free-to-air STB will:

1. Harm consumers by raising the cost of digital migration and binding consumers to an STB forever; Over time all TV sets will be digital, which in other countries do not need set-top boxes. However, if the current proposals are implemented, in South Africa (almost alone in the world) even consumers with digital TV sets will be forced to buy a completely unnecessary set-top box, because the free TV signal will be encrypted.

2. Harm free-to-air broadcasting by increasing the cost of free-to-air television for broadcasters;

3. Disadvantage emerging black manufacturers;

4. Increase the costs of migration for Government, which has already committed itself to subsidizing STBs for the poorest 5 million TV households. Unlike in other countries, this need to subsidise will continue forever because free TV signals will be encrypted here; and

5. Make the migration process complex and result in further delays.

We dispute this aspect of your policy and believe the costs greatly outweigh any supposed benefits.

Your current proposals advance certain narrow commercial interests – rather than being in the interests of our nation.

We appeal to you to allow free, unencrypted digital terrestrial television to launch without any further delay.

Yours Sincerely

Collin Mackenzie
Secretary General, Act-SA

Nolo Letele
Executive Chairman, MultiChoice

Keith Thabo
Chairman, Namec

More on Digital TV

Digital TV in SA: no encryption needed, says Cabinet

SABC jumped the gun on STB call: DA

SABC “free-to-air” set-top boxes welcomed

Latest news

Partner Content

Show comments

Recommended

Share this article
Give us free, unencrypted digital TV now