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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


DA calls on Ntshavheni to consult widely before setting new date for analogue switch-off

The ConCourt found that the minister’s decisions would have left millions of citizens without access to television.


The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni to consult widely before setting a new switch-off date for South Africa’s broadcast digital migration.

SA’s digital migration

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) on Tuesday ruled in favour of private free-to-air broadcaster e.tv over the process followed by Ntshavheni in determining the deadline for the country to switch from analogue to digital television signal.

In its unanimous judgment, delivered by Justice Nonkosi Mhlantla, the apex court found that the minister’s decisions regarding both the initial switch-off date of 31 March 2022 – as well as the revised date of 30 June 2022 – lacked rationality and were unlawful.

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

The ConCourt also ruled that the imposed deadline of 31 October 2021 for indigent households to register for government-subsidised set-top boxes was unconstitutional and invalid, as the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies did not take the necessary steps to ensure that the public was adequately informed.

DA MP and spokesperson on communications, Tsholofelo Bodlani, welcomed the ConCourt’s ruling, saying Ntshavheni should take into account the needs and struggles of SA’s most vulnerable communities before determining a new deadline for SA’s digital migration.

“Justice Mhlantla found that the minister failed to consult with interested stakeholders, and that her decisions would have left millions of South Africans without access to television.

“This judgment underscores the concern that the minister’s initial switch-off date was ill-considered given the failures to the ensure that there was sufficient time to register beneficiaries, ensure that the department had the capacity to roll out the set-top boxes to households and not prejudice anyone,” Bodlani said in a statement.

Costs order against Ntshavheni

In its urgent application to the ConCourt, e.tv appealed the Pretoria High Court’s dismissal of its bid to stop government’s initial 31 March 2022 deadline for digital migration.

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 e.tv’s appeal application.

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

“The minister will have to pay the applicants’ costs including the costs of two-counsel,” Justice Mhlantla said.

Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe

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

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