Court challenge could delay mobile TV in South Africa

The chances of South Africa launching a mobile TV service before the start of the football World Cup next year are slipping after broadcaster made a court application to set aside broadcasting digital migration regulations.

The broadcaster claims a mobile TV service will target a high-end market and that spectrum released from the digital switchover process could be better used for public service needs. It said communications regulator Icasa should carry out an enquiry into whether there is a market for mobile TV services in the country before issuing licences. It pointed out that DVB-H had proved unsuccessful in some other markets.

Last month, Icasa published regulations setting guidelines for the migration to digital broadcasting and the allocation of new TV channels to broadcasters. Earlier this year, it cancelled calls for parties to apply for two licences to run mobile TV services using freed-up spectrum after pressure from but was expected to launch a new selection process later this year.

Incumbent pay-TV operator Multichoice is currently piloting a mobile TV service and said than any further delays in allocating licences would impact its launch plans.