etv, Sabc holding up digital migration

By Drum Digital
25 April 2013

ETV and the SABC are holding up South Africa's migration to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), Communications Minister Dina Pule said on Thursday.

"The SABC and eTV have yet to advise us on the set-top-box control system.... this has resulted in the current delays we are facing," she said at The New Age breakfast business briefing in Johannesburg.

"I hope the SABC and eTV are listening. You are holding us up."

Pule said a recent court judgment indicated that the broadcasters had to decide on the control vendors for the set-top-boxes, which are necessary to convert the DTT signal for many television sets.

Later, Pule said she was not "accusing" SABC and eTV.

"They know they are supposed to be helping me finalise the issue of the set-top-box control."

From her department's side, Pule said the DTT signal was ready for around 80 percent of South Africa. The only outstanding issue was who would manufacture the boxes.

A decision was taken in 2012 to fast-track the process.

"... By the way, I would be in trouble if I talk about 'fast-tracking', because it's a language other people don't like, but it's a language I like because it helps South Africans, so I am going to say it."

Pule has attributed recent articles in the Sunday Times, which she has labelled a highly-sophisticated smear and blackmail campaign against her, to a multi-billion rand set-top-box tender and related issues.

She claimed on Monday that the newspaper's "handlers", high profile business people and politicians, had tried to "coerce" her into a corner by threatening to make "injurious revelations or accusations against me".

Their objective was to force her to make decisions in their favour, she claimed.

On Thursday Pule said she did not want to talk about the allegations.

"There is nothing which is wrong that I have done that, as I am sitting here, I remember."

She claimed the reports were not upsetting her, and she did not believe the public was interested in the allegations, even though they were being publicised under the banner of public interest.

"We are going to the [Press] Ombudsman already," she said.

Pule said she had no objection to Public Protector and Parliament's probes into her conduct, and she was co-operating with these authorities.

The Protector is investigating Pule's role in the ICT Indaba scandal, following reports that R25 million raised by sponsors for the event could not be accounted for.

On Monday, Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt said Pule should provide evidence of her allegations that the newspaper was running a smear campaign or apologise.

"If the minister has any evidence... we invite her to give this to the newspaper so we can deal with it appropriately."

Pule has accused several journalists of involvement in the alleged campaign to discredit her, including Mzilikazi wa Afrika, Rob Rose, and Stephan Hofstatter.

-Sapa

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