Communications Minister Faith Muthambi says South Africa will start its long-delayed switchover to Digital Terrestrial Television or digital TV (DTT) from its current analogue system in June.
Cabinet this week approved policy that allows for set-top boxes needed to access digital TV with control systems.
But Muthambi told journalists at Parliament the control system was a security feature aimed at protecting the government's investment in the set-top boxes it plans to give to more than five million households and not for encryption used to limit access to content.
The issue of a built in control system for set-top boxes has been the focus of a major battle between competing commercial and political interests and its one reason it’s taken years to get digital migration moving.
Muthambi says the yet to be published policy is aimed at giving clarity.
“The set-top box with controls is merely a security feature so that that the box cannot be used outside of South Africa.”
Muthambi says 5 million households will be given free set-top boxes at a cost of around R3 billion.
Muthambi says South Africa will start switching over to digital TV by 17 June.