The Department of Communications (DoC) on Monday said it would appeal the South Gauteng High Court’s December decision to grant conditional access control over subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) to broadcasters.

Last year, free-to-air broadcaster launched a lawsuit against the department and Communications Minister Dina Pule for appointing Sentech to manage conditional access to subsidised STBs.

The court ruled in favour of, the South African Broadcasting Corporation and free-to-air broadcasters gaining control of the conditional access and ordered the DoC to consult with the existing broadcasters and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa on the role each party has in its implementation, the department said in a statement.

However, the DoC would lodge an appeal with the court on Monday after considering the “implications of the judgment on other broadcasters, particularly potential broadcasters”.

Five-million of South Africa’s poorest television-owning households were set to receive a 70% subsidy for the STBs required for the country’s move from analogue to digital terrestrial broadcasting; however, the awarding of a tender for the STBs, and the subsequent manufacture and distribution, was halted pending the resolution of the legal matter.

DoC spokesperson Siya Qoza previously told Engineering News Online that the tender, which closed in September and was to be announced before the end of last year, was only likely to be reviewed mid-year following the conclusion of the court case.

South Africa’s 11.5-million television-owning households would require an STB for terrestrial broadcasting transmission signals after 2015, as the analogue broadcasting frequencies’ exclusivity, or protection, will be lifted, resulting in signal interruptions.

Source: Creamer Media – Natasha Odendaal