DA urges review of broadcast digital migration process – Marian Shinn

Party says sponsored set-top boxes that govt plans to give to 5 million identified households can now proceed

DA urges review of broadcast digital migration process

8 June 2017

The Democratic Alliance appeals to the Minister of Communications, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, to consider our request for a thorough review of the Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) process now that the Constitutional Court has ruled that the 2015 BDM policy was lawfully determined.

Today the court upheld the appeal by former Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, against the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal that ruled the process by which the minister amended the BDM policy in March 2015 was invalid and therefore unlawful.

This means that the sponsored set-top boxes – or decoders – that government plans to give to five million identified indigent households can now proceed. The key issue is that these decoders will not have encryption capabilities.

Production of the first tranche of 1,5 million decoders was halted in late 2015 because of legal challenges to the policy. More than 500 000 decoders had been produced and are housed in South African Post Office warehouses awaiting distribution.
A small number of decoders have been distributed to households in the Northern Cape and border areas.

It is noted that today’s decision is only one step in re-starting the broadcasting digital migration process. The procurement of government-subsidised decoders for identified indigent households is mired in irregularities, is unaffordable and the technology has moved on.

Minister Dlodlo said last month that she wanted to revert to the ANC-approved pre-2015 BDM policy, citing that the Muthambi amendments went counter to the policy of the ANC and its alliance partners.

A joint meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committees of Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services to get an update of the Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting migration project is scheduled for June 20.

I call on the Minister to use this opportunity to reveal what steps she proposes to stimulate the ICT sector to join forces and contribute expertise to accelerate the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

This must be government’s priority project so the airwaves can be released for desperately needed mobile broadband services that can contribute to economic growth, job creation and deliver services and opportunities to South Africans.

Issued by Marian Shinn, DA Shadow Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, 8 June 2017