Sentech distributes free-to-air channels like SABC 1, 2 and 3 among others, which are popular among Zimbabweans, who use Wiztech, Philibao, Fortec Star and Vivid decoders to access the channels.
eBotswana, a subsidiary of South Africa’s eTV, last year approached the Johannesburg High Court, seeking an order compelling the signal carrier to encrypt its signal, as failure to do so had given rise to signal piracy.
The Botswana channel successfully argued that Sentech was not encrypting its signal to its northern neighbours, giving rise to signal piracy.
The order will mean viewers from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique will no longer have access to South African television.
eBotswana had argued that despite Sentech knowing about the 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.
The court has ordered Sentech to take “all reasonable steps necessary” that the signal is encrypted within three months to prevent pirate viewing of the SABC channels carried on the Vivid platform.
Sentech has the right to apply to the court for an extension provided it can show “good cause” why such an extension would be justified. The signal carrier was ordered to pay eBotswana costs.
The SABC channels have become popular with thousands of Zimbabweans, who are frustrated by poor programming, a dearth in local broadcasting standards and the lack of variety from the only broadcaster, ZBC.
Soaps like Generations, Muvhango and Zone 14 have generated a cult-like status in the country. — By Our Staff
Zim tops broadcast piracy rate in africa
Zimbabwe has the highest broadcast piracy rate in Africa of 92%, as people use Wiztech and Philibao decoders to decrypt South African signal career, Sentech’s signals.
Sentech introduced Vivid decoders for South Africans who could not access its terrestrial signal. However, through Philibaos and Wiztech decoders, Zimbabweans gained access to South African television.