SCA rules against communications minister in digital TV battle

The court says a decision by the communications minister on encryption is irrational and wrong.

Department of Communications Minister Faith Muthambi. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has ruled that a decision by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, to institute digital terrestrial television without encryption, is irrational and wrong. has now won the application after it said that digital TV without encryption would make it impossible for it to broadcast high quality content as a free-to-air broadcaster.

South Africa's migration to digital terrestrial television has been delayed by several years because of arguments over this issue.

In its judgment, the SCA says Muthambi had given two different statements of policy at different times, and that it was impossible to know which was actually going to be implemented.

Judges say Muthambi is confused as to what impact a change to the policy would actually have.

They also say that if her decision was to be implemented, the poorer in society would be left without high quality television broadcasts and competition would be stifled.

The judges say that Muthambi's failure to consult with communications regulator Icasa is egregious.

While this is a big victory for, it could further delay the implementation of digital terrestrial television.