South African free-to-air broadcaster e.tv has criticised Communications Minister Dina Pule for suggesting that broadcasters were the cause of the digital TV migration delays and for misrepresenting December’s court ruling on the control of state-subsidised set-top boxes (STBs), HumanIPO reported.

In December 2012, the High Court of South Gauteng ruled in favour of e.tv, saying Pule had no legal power either to prescribe or make binding decisions regarding the contol of STBs. The ruling stipulated that broadcasters are to control STBs while the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) should have the power to regulate the control.

The Department of Communications (DoC) has warned that South Africa will miss the international digital migration deadline should the high court rule fail to uphold Pule’s appeal against the ruling. Pule said the DoC and broadcasters have met to discuss the distribution of STBs into the market and all parties have agreed to consider the available options to bring about a speedy implementation of digital migration.

However, e.tv has criticised her remarks and considers that the DoC used the meetings to reinstate its previous position on STB control, which the court ruled against. In a statement, e.tv said 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. 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.

Source: Telcompaper – Broadcast and Satellite