South Africa’s Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has confirmed that the country’s shift to digital TV broadcasting will not mean an enforced encryption on DTT set-top boxes. “The current government policy is non-encryption. Thus far, 1.5-million set-top boxes have been ordered and approximately 850,000 were delivered,” said a spokeswoman speaking on behalf of the Minister.
Kubayi-Ngubane’s position, in effect, reverses previous communications minister Ayanda Dlodlo’s policy position, which sought to ensure that set-top boxes are encrypted. Local reports say that Kubayi-Ngubane told Parliament recently that her department had requested a legal opinion on the Constitutional Court ruling on the set-top box matter, which was handed down late in 2017. The Court’s ruling made it clear that policy making was the government’s prerogative, meaning the Department of Communications was well within its rights to decide whether set-top boxes would be encrypted or not.
Kubayi-Ngubane pointed out that the Court had cautioned the government not to utilise public funds to the benefit of private commercial interests (which would in theory benefit the encrypted transmissions from MultiChoice/DStv).