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TV company news

Pirate low quality DTT set-top boxes (STBs) in South Africa

The influx of illegal DTT set-top boxes (STB) has already reached South African shores. Worryingly, the STBs do not meet the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) specifications. has investigated the availability of the these pirate STBs and has found that they are easily available from markets in Johannesburg and Cape Town. These decoders receive the digital terrestrial television (DTT) test channels (which are currently provided free-to-air) and provide recording capabilities to external storage devices.

Local manufacturers are very concerned about these boxes hitting the South African market as their investment in the production of compliant Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial, version 2 standard (DVB-T2) STBs could potentially be scuppered if these pirate STBs flood the local market.

Bronwyn Keene-Young,'s Group COO, says, "There is little to stop pirate set-top boxes from flooding the South African market and destroying the local manufacturing market because South African manufacturers will comply with the SABS standards but won't be able to compete with cheap low quality foreign STBs."

With a lack of copy-protection mechanisms on the HD output to the TV, and into the personal video recording (PVR) functionality on these boxes, the broadcast and manufacturing industry would need to rely on the already heavily-burdened law enforcement agencies to stop these boxes entering the country.

Keene-Young notes, "Having the broadcast signal protected at the commercial launch of DTT will go a long way to make sure that these boxes become redundant and therefore pose no threat to the local manufacturing industry."

Editorial contact
Vasili Vass, Head: Corporate Affairs at or 021 481 4532 or 084 233 8277
Yudhvir Ranchod, Corporate Affairs Officer at or 021 481 4779 or 082 884 4568's press office is South Africa's first private free-to-air television channel. Launched in 1998, the channel broadcasts a full-spectrum programming service to 78% of South Africa's population. is owned by black empowerment group Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited and Venfin Limited.
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