South Africa: Digital Dzonga Advisory Council is Dissolved and digital TV launch postponed to 2013

Regulation & Policy

Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda has dissolved the Digital Dzonga Advisory Council, which was tasked to oversee the migration from analogue broadcasting to digital.

The news was unlikely to further delay the process, which is already running behind the original schedule. The 12-member council was appointed in 2008 and made up of representatives from broadcasters, M-Net and the SABC, manufacturers Altech UEC and Reutech Digital and labour and consumer groups. Nyanda told council members last week he had received a report suggesting a possible conflict of interest by some of the members of the council.

This was due to the fact that most members are employed by organisations that have interests, directly or indirectly, in the value chain of the migration process. Nyanda said the Department of Communications and the migration process "shouldn't be compromised as a result of this issue". A process is under way to nominate new candidates.

An industry source close to the council was not surprised by Nyanda's move. "It's been long coming, some members had their own interests, and some were not aligned" with that of the department, he said.

"Even if new people are nominated, the government will not be able to proceed without the stakeholders (manufactures and broadcasters). They will need them but the important thing is to make sure the interests are aligned," the source said, adding that globally it has been shown that bodies similar to the council were crucial to the migration process.

The council planned to commercially launch the digital signal this month, but new deadlines will be announced when the government has finalised the technology standards to be included in decoders that will receive the signals. Some sources say this will be as late as 2013

Source: BusinessDay