The SABC will not support conditional access of set-top boxes, the public broadcaster has announced, saying this was the “most suitable” option for them.
“This was not a decision taken lightly and all sides of the matter had to be carefully considered,” says group chief executive officer, Lulama Mokhobo.
“However at the end of the day, whatever we do as a public service broadcaster, we must ensure that it is in the interest of the public and we believe that having no conditional access will mean that no South African can ever be denied their right to access of broadcasting services in this country,” she says.
The SABC said its services, both television and radio have always been on a free to air basis and “going forward this will also be the case for DTT”.
The broadcaster said in a statement its decision was strengthened by research on international best practice, which found conditional access is predominantly used by pay-TV operators.
“It is in the SABC’s interest that any subscription DTT Set Top Box (STB) is capable of also receiving the SABC free to Air (FTA) channels. In this case any DTT subscriber would not have to purchase an additional FTA STB in order to receive the SABC FTA DTT channels,” it said.
“If the SABC channels were encrypted on DTT by means of a particular encryption system that is different to that of particular subscription service, this DTT STB would not have the ability to receive the SABC channels. In addition, having a set-top box with conditional access would put an extra burden on consumers, as this would drive up the cost of the set-top box.”
The SABC said it was ready to launch its DTT service, with the “infrastructure, content and all other necessary resources are in place”
The service will provide television channels SABC 1, 2, 3, as well as the 24-Hour News Channel, which is currently being broadcast on DStv channel 404. The SABC also plans to launch an entertainment channel on the DTT platform.