South Africa rejects encryption system in final amendment to BDM policy

South African government has rejected an encryption system based on conditional access in its final amendment to the broadcasting digital migration (BDM) policy. Set-top-boxes will have a robust control system which will be used to help TV households by ensuring that they continue to receive free-to-air broadcasting services in their existing analogue television sets.

“Government now does not support proposals advanced by e.tv and others that encryption should form a cornerstone feature of the set-top-boxes that South Africans will need to watch terrestrial television after analogue broadcasts are terminated,” stated a final amendment document released on 18 March in the Government Gazette.

“In keeping with the objectives of ensuring universal access to broadcasting services in South Africa and protecting government investment in [the] subsidised [set-top box] market, [the set-top box] control system in free-to-air [digital terrestrial TV] will be non-mandatory,” the final policy amendment said.

In the final policy amendments, government says the set-top boxes will have a control system to prevent subsidised units from functioning outside South Africa.

In addition, the South African Bureau of Standards has planned to develop a conformance testing regime to ensure that STBs conform to the South African standards for the digital terrestrial television electronic communications network.