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COURT GRANTS e.tv LEAVE TO APPEAL

E.TV’s lawyer said he was “delighted” that the free-to-air-broadcaster was given permission to take its court battle against the government’s digital migration policy to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Pretoria High Court Judge Bill Prinsloo granted e.tv leave to appeal on Friday, signalling further delay to the country’s migration from analogue to digital broadcasting. SA’s move to digital, which is mandatory globally, is behind schedule after SA missed the June 17 deadline.

E.tv’s attorney, Aslam Moosajee, said his client was especially pleased that Judge Prinsloo recognised that this case was a matter of national importance.

In his ruling, Judge Prinsloo said: “The broadcasting digital migration process is something that directly affects the vast majority of people in this country.”

It is also a process that is under way globally and will be with us for the foreseeable future.

“It is a matter of national importance,” he said.

The High Court hearing concerned set-top boxes that the government plans to subsidise so that households without a digital platform, such as a pay-TV decoder, can receive a digital signal.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi had amended the government’s policy and said the set-top boxes would not have an encryption function.

E.tv argued that the amendment effectively barred it from ever being able to encrypt its broadcasts because the cost of doing this at a later stage was prohibitive.

While encryption was not necessary for the reception of free-to-air broadcasts, e.tv said its ability to encrypt future broadcasts was “essential to its business plans”, as without it, audiences would end up with a second-rate viewing experience and be unable to access premium shows.

Multichoice’s M-Net and the South African Broadcasting Corporation have disputed this.

Source: BDLive – Franny Rabkin