Today's Big Stories

Communications ministry defends Muthambi over un-encrypted set-top boxes

Communications Department has defended Minister Faith Muthambi amid criticism regarding her decision to implement un-encrypted television set-top boxes for the digital migration project.

This is despite statements from members of the ruling party that the decision defies the original ANC policy, which called for encryption.

Encryption would allow government to broadcast emergency warnings and regulate the use of set-top boxes outside of South Africa.

The department's Acting Deputy Director General, Norman Munzhelele explains that the ANC's policy on encryption orders that there be a security feature protecting the transmission of digital terrestrial television.

The department has always maintained the position that there is a need to have a mechanism in the [set-top] box to assist government to protect its investment, and to ensure that the boxes do not work outside the borders of the country.

Norman Munzhelele, Acting Deputy Director General for the Communications Department

Munzhelele did not comment on the argument that broadcasters, with encrypted systems, such as DSTV will benefit, while ETV and other un-encrypted networks will suffer.

According to Munzhelele, there are existing measures to protect the transmission and competition, such as signal distributor Sentech and regulator Icasa.

Other broadcasters have argued that it will be impossible to broadcast high quality programmes if the un-encrypted system is implemented, limiting the diversity and risking the piracy of content.

Listen to the full conversation from The Midday Report with Stephen Grootes:

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