MultiChoice has voiced strong opposition to the South African government’s plans to include CAS on subsidised set-top boxes (STBs), claiming that the move will set back the country many years technologically and increase set-up costs. MultiChoice CEO, Imtiaz Patel, said technology is moving towards integrated television sets and argued that CAS would enable operators such as FTA broadcaster, e.tv, to offer Pay-TV services subsidised by the government.
The government is preparing to appoint STB manufacturers for its DTT migration project and plans to subsidise up to 70 % of the cost of an STB in homes that qualify for its subsidy programme. Siya Qoza, spokesman for the Department of Communications, said the government had not moved from its policy supporting conditional access.
MultiChoice spends about USD 102 million annually to subsidise STBs to its paying subscribers, and recently signed a USD 50 million contract with South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) that will see the public broadcaster produce two channels — news and entertainment — for the pay-TV group over a five-year period. The SABC has agreed not to encrypt its channels on any platform.