SABC set-top boxes won’t allow blocking of non-payers

2013-11-01 08:48

The SABC’s digital terrestrial television (DTT) set-top boxes won’t have a control system that could have allowed the broadcaster to cut off non-payers of TV licences remotely.

“As a public service broadcaster, we have taken the decision not to support conditional access of set-top boxes, as this is the most suitable option for us as a free-to-air broadcaster,” it said in a statement.

“Our 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.”

It said having a set-top box with conditional access would put an extra burden on consumers and drive up the cost of the device.

“Research through benchmarking with other public broadcasters across the world also strengthened our decision, as they do not have conditional access on their services either, which is a standard practice,” the SABC said.

“It must be noted that conditional access is predominantly used by pay-TV operators.”

The SABC said it was ready to launch the DTT service, as the infrastructure, content, and resources were in place. The service would provide SABC channels 1, 2, 3, and its 24-hour news channel.

“The SABC will also launch an entertainment channel on the DTT platform.”

SABC group CEO Lulama Mokhobo said the decision to not support conditional access was not taken lightly.

“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.”

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