South African free-to-air broadcaster e.tv has lashed out at Communications Minister Dina Pule for suggesting broadcasters were the cause for the digital migration delays and for misrepresenting the court ruling.

HumanIPO reported yesterday the Department of Communications (DoC) warned South Africa will miss the international digital migration deadline should the high court rule fail to uphold Pule’s appeal, which is contesting the right granted to free-to-air broadcasters to control state-subsidised digital set-top boxes.

In December last year the High Court of South Gauteng ruled in favour of e.tv saying Pule had no legal power to prescribe nor make binding decisions regarding the contol of set-top-boxes.

The ruling stipulated broadcasters are to control the set-top-boxes while the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) should have the power to regulate the control.

Pule said the DoC and broadcasters met to discuss the distribution of set-top boxes into the market and all parties have agreed to consider available options to bring about speedy implementation of digital migration.

However, e.tv has rubbished these remarks and believes the DoC used the meetings to reinstate its previous position on the set-top-boxes control, which was ruled against by the court.

“If the minister were to abide by the decision of the high court, the free-to-air broadcasters would be in a position to put the digital terrestrial television process back on track with immediate effect,” said e.tv in a statement yesterday (January 16).

E.tv added: “Unfortunately, the ministry has proceeded to issue media statements which misrepresent the nature of the ruling and which imply that free-to-air broadcasters are responsible for the delays in digital terrestrial television.”

If South Africa fails to meet the June 2015 international digital migration deadline repercussions include the International Telecommunications Union ceasing to protect the analogue signal from interference.

Democratic Alliance shadow minister Marian Shinn is also of the opinion the prolonging of the legal battle is detrimental to the country’s switchover and time could be better spent focusing the department’s skills and resources on developing and delivering the numerous projects necessary for manufacturing set-top-boxes.

Source: Humanipo – Brandon Gregory