Marian Shinn, South Africa’s Shadow Minister of Communications, has criticised Communications Minister Dina Pule’s court appeal over the control of the set-top-boxes (STB).
HumanIPO reported earlier today (Wednesday) that SABC, e.tv and free-to-air broadcasters met with officials from the South African Department of Communications (DoC) to discuss the implications of allowing the broadcasters to control access to state-subsidised set-top boxes.
Shinn is concerned about further delays in the migration to digital signal due to Pule’s appeal against the high court’s decision to grant free-to-air-broadcasters the right to control the set-top boxes.
“Should the appeal take about a year to settle it will take many more months before the successful STB manufacturers are chosen and able to start planning for production. It will then take another six to nine months before the STB’s are ready to retail,” she said in a statement.
The DoC admitted themselves today a lengthy appeal process will lead to them missing the 2015 deadline agreed to by all African countries with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Shinn added: “Instead of prolonging the legal battle she initiated over an agreement reached by her predecessor, the late Roy Padayachie, the Minister should rather focus her department’s skills and resources on developing and delivering the numerous projects necessary for the manufacture of STBs.
“The department also needs to provide details on the quantity and costs of the set-top [box] subsidy programme for poorer households, and the logistics, funding and resources needed to market, install and support the subsidy program.”
Shinn believes free-to-air broadcasters e.tv and MNEt who are ready for the digital TV switchover are being “financially compromised by the government’s perpetual delays”. She said the Minister’s appeal “is the second major bureaucratic set-back in three years to South Africa’s DTT rollout.”
“I will request that the portfolio committee call the Minister to explain her actions and the negative impact this will have in rolling out our much delayed migration to DTT,” Shinn said.