Encryption order to stem cross border free to air TV viewing in Southern Africa

Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 20-02-2012

Television distributor Sentech has been ordered to encrypt its free to air signals for South African TV channels including SABC 1, 2 and 3 to prevent cross border piracy in neighbouring countries.
Viewers in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Lesotho, Namibia, and Angola reportedly use a range of decoders, including Wiztech, Philibao, Fortec Star and Vivid, to illegally view the television channels beamed from South Africa without subscription.
eBotswana, a subsidiary of South Africa's eTV, approached the Johannesburg High Court in 2011, seeking an order compelling Sentech to encrypt its signal to its northern neighbours to combat the problem.
The broadcaster argued that although Sentech knew about the signal piracy, it had done nothing to rectify the problem.
In a judgement handed down last week, the Johannesburg High Court found Sentech "wrongful, negligent and in breach" for its failure to encrypt its signal.
It now has three months to encrypt its signals to prevent pirate viewing of the SABC channels carried on the Vivid platform.
Sentech was also ordered to pay eBotswana costs.