SA Communications Minister seeks consensus on subsidised STB encryption

South Africa’s Communications Minister, Yunus Carrim, is attempting to reach a consensus with broadcasters over whether the government-subsidised STBs for digital terrestrial television will contain a control system based on encryption.

Carrim on Tuesday told the parliament that the department of communications will keep negotiations open for another three or four weeks in the hope for greater consensus. “I am now actively involved in having one on ones with the parties involved in the interests of the country. We need to ensure mobile operators don’t say they don’t have access to spectrum. We need to benefit the poor. This is not an issue about broadcasters. This is about jobs. We need this for economic growth reasons.”

MultiChoice has voiced strong opposition to the government’s plans to include CAS on subsidised STBs, claiming that the move will increase set-up costs and enable unfair competition as FTA broadcaster, e.tv, would be able to offer pay-TV services subsidised by the government. e.tv had earlier expressed its support for CAS to ensure the viability of FTA broadcasters in a market dominated by pay-TV operators. Public broadcaster, SABC, which was initially in favour of set-top box control, is now firmly opposed to the idea.