Verdict on SA’s set-top box war to be etched next month

The South African government is expected to make a decision on the divisive issue of enabling encryption in subsidised STBs by early December.

The National Association of Manufacturers in Electronic Components (NAMEC) and the Black Business Council has warned that the introduction of conditional access systems (CAS) could destroy the chances that emerging, black-owned STB manufacturers have of taking on local manufacturing incumbents, such as Altech and Reunert. Vijay Panday, chairman of NAMEC’s electronics manufacturing division said that encryption would also increase the total cost of STBs by at least USD 43.

MultiChoice has voiced strong opposition to the government’s plans to include CAS on subsidised STBs, claiming that the move will not only increase set-up costs, but enable unfair competition as operators such 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.