The free-to-air broadcaster says comments by Roy Kruger, the technical adviser to communications minister Dina Pule, about its lawsuit against the minister are “unacceptable” and “reckless”.

E.tv says it is dismayed by comments made by Roy Kruger, communications minister Dina Pule’s technical advisor, about the broadcaster’s commitment to digital terrestrial television. Pule herself was quick to distance herself from the remarks, which were published exclusively on TechCentral.

Kruger made the comments at an industry conference in Cape Town on Tuesday.

Among other things, Kruger directed criticism at e.tv lawsuit against the minister in which it is contesting her appointment of Sentech to manage the conditional access system for digital terrestrial television. E.tv believes free-to-air broadcasters should manage the conditional access control system.

The broadcaster says Kruger’s blaming the lawsuit for delaying the launch of digital television was “highly irresponsible and misinformed”.

“E.tv takes [digital television] and the lawsuit very seriously and has always supported the migration as a path to a multi-channel free-to-air environment.”

E.tv chief operating officer Bronwyn Keene-Young says Kruger’s comments are not acceptable, “especially in the context of e.tv’s repeated public statements that a successful [digital television] platform is crucial to the sustainability of terrestrial broadcasters in South Africa”.

“Terrestrial broadcasters are losing audience share as viewers increasingly move to other platforms offering multi-channel options. It is for this reason that e.tv has a critical and vested interest in the success of [digital television] to maintain its viability and to offer South Africa a high quality multi-channel free-to-air product. In fact, as a single-channel free-to-air broadcaster, we probably have the most to lose by delays.”

Keene-Young says Kruger’s accusation that e.tv is “holding up the country” is untrue. Furthermore, she says the comments are ironic given that digital migration is being delayed because of “a lack of regulatory certainty with no finalised regulations, no finalised Sentech tariffs for broadcasters and no strong communications campaign around digital television”.

Although the broadcaster “fully supports” migration, Keene-Young says this “does not mean we should be forced to accept unlawful instructions from the minister”.

The high court in Johannesburg is expected to hand down judgment in the matter soon.

Source: Techcentral – 2012 NewsCentral Media (added by Craig Wilson)