South Africa decides against mandatory access control

The South African government has decided not to make use of access control a mandatory feature of digital switchover in order to prevent further delays to the process.

The government said that “use of a control system” would not be a mandatory feature of digital switchover but that government-subsidised boxes would have an access control system to protect the government’s investment.

“To avoid challenges in implementing the digital migration programme, caused mainly by differences between broadcasters and also between some manufacturers, the use of a control system is not mandatory,” said the government’s revised policy statement. “However, the STBs will have a control system to protect government’s investment in the subsidised STB market and the local electronics industry and, with rapid technological changes, for future use by broadcasters who might not want to use it on implementation.”

Broadcasters that want to use access control features on subsidised set-tops to deliver pay TV services will have to pay a fee to do so.

Digital broadcasting will begin in South Africa by April 1 next year, with the date for analogue switch-off yet to be determined. The DTT signal must cover 84% of the country’s population by the launch date, with areas that are difficult to cover being reached by DVB-S2-based satellite broadcasting.