South Africa: Cabinet approves STB access control

Regulation & Policy


The digital migration amendment policy, advocating STB access control, has been approved by Cabinet.

The digital migration amendment policy, advocating STB access control, has been approved by Cabinet.

The digital migration amendment policy, which advocates the inclusion of access control in set-top boxes (STB), has been approved by Cabinet.

Communications minister Faith Muthambi says the move will protect government's investment in STBs, so that they cannot be used outside of the boundaries of SA.

The announcement puts to bed a long-standing debate around whether conditional access should be built into digital TV STBs. The debate headed to Cabinet towards the end of 2013, but reached an impasse, putting a spanner in SA's digital migration works. 

The process ground to a halt again when the migration policy was sent to Cabinet, at the end of August last year, for final approval. Since then, little had come to light around its progress, until now.

Digital satellite TV provider Multichoice has welcomed the clarification by Muthambi, noting that she stipulated at today's post-Cabinet media briefing that the control system in STBs would be a security feature only. "[The minister said] this will not include conditional access or encryption. We await publication of the final policy."

The South African Communications Forum (SACF) commended Cabinet on its decision, saying it views the inclusion of a control system in the STB to be used for digital migration as in the best interest of consumers. "[It will also] will promote industrial development, job creation, access to information and Black Economic Empowerment."

SACF CEO Loren Braithwaite-Kabosha says most of the ICT industry is relieve that this decision has finally been taken, and hopes that SA will see speedy implementation.

Government will provide free STBs to SA's poor, in a bid to move the project forward.

The SACF says, with this taken into consideration, "it is now impossible to meet the June 2015 deadline for completion".

Source: ITWeb 6 March 2015