Migration from analogue to digital will include conditional access

Govt policy on the migration process won’t prohibit broadcasters from including conditional access.

FILE. Govt policy on the migration process won’t prohibit broadcasters from including conditional access. Picture: espensorvik/Flickr

CAPE TOWN - The Communications Department says government's policy on migration from analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television or digital TV (DTT) does not prohibit broadcasters from including conditional access.

DTT is set to replace the analogue signal used to transmit free-to-air channels such as the SABC offerings, e.tv and an array of community stations.

The department says broadcasters wanting to do that should acquire a Conditional Access System.

The yet-to-be published policy includes provision for set-top boxes with a control system, described as a security feature that doesn't mean encryption or access control.

All the viewer needs to do is get hold of a set-top box (STB), known to many as a decoder, which will unscramble the signal sent over the airwaves and received via rooftop aerial.

South Africa won't meet the international deadline to switch off analogue television signals by 17 June but Cabinet's approval of the policy allows for the roll-out of set-top boxes to begin.

The Communications Minister Faith Muthambi's spokesperson Ayanda Hollow explains.

"The gazette and Minister Muthambi will definitely announce on the specificity of dates. At the moment, it's not been gazetted in the policy, so we would not have a specific date. However, as I'm saying that, the date should not be viewed as a cut-off date."

The minister says government will provide more than five million poor households with free STBs.