Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Ntshavheni’s deadline for SA’s analogue switch-off was unlawful, ConCourt rules

The ConCourt has ruled in favour of's urgent appeal application and imposed a costs order on the minister.

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) has ruled that the process followed by Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni to determine the deadline for South Africa’s switch from analogue to digital television signal, was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Digital migration

This after free-to-air broadcaster appealed the Pretoria High Court’s dismissal of its bid to stop government’s 30 June 2022 deadline – previously 31 March 2022 – for broadcast digital migration.

ALSO READ: Government still has hopes of reaching SA’s digital migration deadline, says Ntshavheni

The private broadcaster argued that the switch-off date was unlawful, as it would result in millions of poor households being cut off because they don’t have access to set-top boxes to access digital television.

Government had opposed’s appeal application.

Deadline unconstitutional

Delivering the ConCourt’s unanimous judgment on Tuesday morning, Justice Nonkosi Mhlantla said Ntshavheni’s implementation process to switch off analogue signals was irrational and unconstitutional.

“The order of the high court is set aside and replaced with the following: it is declared that the announcement of 31 March 2022 as the final switch-off date of the analogue signal and the end of dual illumination issued by the minister of communications and digital technologies, on 28 February 2022, in terms of the broadcasting digital migration policy, as amended, is unconstitutional, invalid and is set aside,” Justice Mhlantla said.

The ConCourt further set aside the costs order imposed by the high court on and imposed the order on Ntshavheni.

“The minister will have to pay the applicants costs including the costs of two council.”

Ntshavheni was ordered to consult properly on the determination of the analogue switch-off date with all stakeholders.

Justice Mhlantla said the minister should do this “in a manner that is consistent with the prescripts of legality”.

Set-top box installations

Government has completed the analogue switch-off and migration for the SABC analogue switch-off, in the Free State, Northern Cape, North-West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces.

It has completed set-top box installations in the Free State, Northern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

As it stands South Africa is one of the last countries in the world still using analogue broadcasts, having missed several previous migration deadlines.

NOW READ: Cabinet approves revised digital migration policy

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