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Analogue switch-off declared unconstitutional and invalid

Published Jun 28, 2022

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Cape Town - The Constitutional Court has declared the decision by the minister of Communications and Digital Technologies' to impose a deadline of October 31, 2021 to register for set-top boxes, was unconstitutional and invalid, and it was set aside.

The court, upholding an application for leave to appeal, also found that the minister’s decision to determine the deadline for registration of set-top boxes without considering the number of people who would be adversely affected by the analogue switch-off, tainted the process with irrationality.

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Constitutional Court Justice Nonkosi Zoliswa Mhlantla on Tuesday morning handed down judgment in two consolidated applications for direct appeal against a judgment and order of the High Court in Pretoria.

These applications arose from a matter that was launched in the high court by e.tv against the minister, in which Media Monitoring Africa and SOS Support Public Broadcasting were admitted as intervening parties.

In February 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the phased switch-off of analogue transmitters would be completed by the end of March 2022.

On September 29, 2021, Cabinet approved the analogue switch-off plan, which was prepared by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies in consultation with the steering committee.

After this announcement, e.tv brought an urgent application in the high court against the minister.

It sought to prevent the disconnection of millions of people who were still relying on and receiving analogue transmission as they had not yet migrated to digital transmission.

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The applicants sought an order that a process of consultation should be taken to determine:

* The analogue switch-off date.

* That the switch-off would only occur once all people relying on analogue transmission are provided with a necessary alternative.

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* That the notice which determined the March 31, 2022 analogue switch-off date be declared unlawful.

* That the minister should be ordered to report on the steps taken to ensure access to set-top boxes.

Cape Times

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