Communications Minister Yunus Carrim

Cape Town - Communications Minister Yunus Carrim has called a MultiChoice advert criticising the government’s digital TV migration policy an act of desperation and says it is in bad faith.

He was “highly annoyed” by the ad, published on Sunday over three months after the release of a revised policy. But he emphasised negotiations were continuing.

At the heart of the dispute is the use of set-top boxes required for the migration to digital from analogue TV broadcasting by June next year.

The latest digital policy, released in December, introduced the option of having a control function, which must be paid for, or not having one at all.

In a complex interplay of communications and trade and industry incentives for job creation, manufacturing subsidies for set-top boxes are available only to those who chose the control option. These incentives are in addition to the government’s s commitment of about R3 billion to subsidise set-top boxes for about 5.2 million poor households which would get them free.

In Sunday’s advert, MultiChoice, the Association of Community Television SA and the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronic Components

said: “We appeal to you (the minister) to allow free, unencrypted digital terrestrial TV to launch without any further delay.”

They also highlighted harm to consumers, increasing costs, disadvantage to black manufacturers and unnecessary complexities in the digital migration.

Cape Argus