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Confusion reigns around digital TV

Consumers are at the mercy of clueless retailers, which have no idea what the shift to digital television entails, as the Department of Communications (DOC) has not supplied adequate information.

This is despite the launch deadline due in the fourth quarter of this year.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is set to turn on digital television using the European DVB-T2 standard, at the end of October.

About 10 million households will need decoders – or set-top boxes (STBs) – to continue watching when digital signal takes over from analogue, some two years from initial turn-on. The other alternative is to purchase a TV set with a built-in digital tuner; however, these are currently not available and will not be for some time.

Yet, of the six stores in Gauteng – SA's economic hub – ITWeb contacted, only one was familiar with the need for a decoder, and the fact that current sets will not receive the new signal without an STB.

Others provided misinformation ranging from high-definition sets mitigating the need for a decoder, to tuners already built into sets currently available, and current digital TVs would work, but a box might be required. Another outlet knew STBs would be required, but had no further details, while yet another store had no idea what was required, nor when digital TV would be turned on.

Top down

The lack of shop floor clarity stems straight from a lack of information provided to head office level.

Massmart corporate affairs executive, Brian Leroni, says there is little clarity on conversion timing or preferred technology. Massmart owns outlets such as Game, Dion Wired and Makro.

Leroni says the group's buyers say generic information was made available to staff and consumers when migration was announced, with the aim to provide more detailed information when arrangements for conversion are wrapped up.


However, Leroni says while regulatory authorities have wrapped up their position on DVB-T2, specifications for STBs still need to be released and a manufacturer appointed, as well as plans announced for distribution of decoders.

“Because of this, follow-up training aimed at providing staff with more specific information has not been conducted. We take the point, however, that staff should have broad awareness of generic principles associated with the conversion. We will review needs across all stores and conduct refresher information briefings as required,” says Leroni.

The DOC decided to migrate using DVB-T2 last January, but only recently issued South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) specifications for the boxes, while a request for proposals for manufacture has yet to be issued.

Rod Salmon, Pick n Pay's GM of merchandise, says the retailer is waiting for government to decide on the exact specifications for the switch to digital television. “This decision has been pending for at least four years. Because of this, staff in our stores has not yet received training on the difference between DTV and HD, but we will communicate with them that they need to explain the delay to our customers.”

Salmon says, as soon as the correct information is available, staff will be fully trained. “There is some confusion among suppliers as to what exactly will be required; government departments, at present, are only communicating via press releases and apparently not directly with suppliers and retailers.”

David Hirsch, JD Group's head of merchandise and marketing, says the retailer will update training closer to the launch date. “There still seems to be confusion around the official commencement date.”

Hirsch says JD Group sent out brochures with a full explanation on digital TV more than a year ago. Chains also did some training until the programme was halted and the digital technology platform was changed, he adds. JD Group owns outlets such as Hi-Fi Corporation, Joshua Doore, Morkels and Russells.

Major TV brands have not advised their intentions on including built-in tuners, although Hirsch expects them to supply these products down the line when full testing has been completed. JD is also investigating the cost to include the solution in its in-house brands, although Hirsch questions whether the consumer will pay more if they already have DStv.

Hitting pause

Andrew Fraser, Sony SA's senior brand manager, says the manufacturer assembles LCD TVs with digital tuners locally, which accounts for about 99% of all sets sold in SA.

However, Sony's current range does not incorporate DVB-T2 tuners, as the regulations for the standard were only recently finalised and currently available models conform to the previously announced standard, DVB-T, says Fraser.

Fraser says sets will be made with compliant tuners, although timing has not yet been confirmed. He adds that the SA-specific requirements are onerous due to the small local market and the specific needs that have been added to the basic DVB-T2 standard. “However, Sony will provide sets that provide the maximum usability given these constraints.”

Liu Jinsuo, TV product manager for Hisense SA, says there are currently no sets in the country that can be used without a decoder if digital TV was turned on tomorrow, but these are being worked on as the standard was issued recently.

Hisense has research and development facilities in China working on European DVB-T2 sets, says Jinsuo. Hisense makes all its sets for the local market in SA, with a monthly run of 20 000, he says.

However, Gavin Spark, marketing supervisor of the Home Entertainment – TV unit at LG Electronics SA, says while specifications for decoders have been published, those for built-in digital tuners have yet to be released by the department.

“LG is waiting for SABS to finalise the specifications/standards for built-in digital tuners, and once this has been issued, LG has the technology and capabilities to make our TVs compliant to the standards set by SABS and DOC.”

The department's spokesman, Siya Qoza, says a full awareness programme has been developed and the campaign will start “in full earnest” during the next quarter. He says frequently asked questions have been answered in “virtually all newspapers throughout SA” and the department has placed advertisements and done technical presentations on many national and regional radio stations, in addition to setting up a call centre.

“Continuous training/information dissemination will get everyone up to speed with the analogue to digital programme. The department will continue to send out information to the public to create awareness and understanding.”






SABE R 1,5 Billion Loan



Zuma pal scoops top job with no matric

iol news pic si Hlaudi_SABC


Hlaudi Motsoeneng has walked into key positions tailor-made to suit him. He has no matric and has no managerial experience at that level.


A supporter of President Jacob Zuma, with neither a matric certificate nor top management experience is tipped to land the R2 million job as chief operating officer of the financially-crippled SABC.

This after the SABC decided to advertise the strategic, second-most powerful post, only internally, for only three working days. According to newly-appointed group chief executive officer Lulama Mokhobo, matric was not a requirement for successful candidates.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng, essentially an ANC deployee at SABC, has had the requirements for the job, one of the key positions in the corporation’s turn-around strategy, tailor-made to suit him because he has no matric and has no managerial experience at that level.

He is the same man fingered by a KPMG probe as having lied about having a matric certificate when he applied for the post of news executive for the broadcaster’s Bloemfontein office several years ago. Should Motsoeneng land the job, he would possibly become the only COO of such a major public institution without matric.

The move has angered workers in the financially struggling organisation. They are asking how a person without an undergraduate qualification could be the second-in-command of an organisation with a R4.7 billion turnover.

At e.tv, for example, Bronwyn Keen-Young is the chief operating officer. She has a Masters degree from Wits University and a Bachelor of Law Degree (LLB) from the University of South Africa (Unisa). Before her appointment at e.tv, she co-founded the Media Monitoring Project in 1993. Another COO, Graham Wayne Dempster, of Nedbank, one of the country’s top banks, is a qualified chartered accountant and has experience in retail banking.

The Sunday Tribune learnt that Mokhobo advertised the job on Friday, but apparently deleted parts where academic qualifications were required, ostensibly to ensure Motsoeneng, who does not have a matric but has strong political backing, qualified for the position.

Staff at the SABC are now questioning the deletion of the academic qualifications from the advert and the three working days allocated to prospective candidates. Applicants have until Tuesday to apply.

They say the position needs a suitably qualified person and Motsoeneng, said to have Zuma’s ear, was not the right candidate.

The advert states that the person who would be appointed to the job should be a “commercially astute executive, with broad ranging experience of success in broadcasting”, have “well developed negotiation and relationship building skills at the most senior level” and the “ability to translate and promote the integration of new business objectives into financial, human capital and organisational development changes on an ongoing basis”. “A demonstrable passion for public service” is the last requirement for the job.

Approached for comment, Motsoeneng said “I don’t want to comment on this issue” and added “speak to the CEO. She is here with me” before handing over his cellphone to Mokhobo.

The CEO said the job did not require a degree and was open only to SABC employees. “We are looking for a candidate who understands the business of the SABC. We don’t have the time to be in a state of inertia. It does not require a degree to run a business operation. That does not require an MBA. Anybody internally can apply for this job. We are very clear that we are not opening it to everybody,” she said.

She said the position did not require technical skill but an understanding of how business operations are run. “You need the ability to oversee complex situations.”

Responding to claims that the advert is tailor-made to suit Motsoeneng, Mokhobo said: “If we (had already) decided on Hlaudi, we would have not advertised the position. We would have given it to him.”

For over four years now, the SABC has not had a permanent COO and a chief technology officer. In stark contrast to Motsoeneng, Solly Mokoetle, the last person to occupy the position permanently in 2006, had a masters degree in journalism from Canada's Carleton University and 25 years experience in broadcasting. Twelve of those years were spent in executive management at the SABC. He also obtained advanced management and finance qualifications.

His successor, Charlotte Mampane, who occupied the COO's post temporarily, had a masters degree in management from Wits University, an honours degree from Unisa and management certificates from Wits Business School.

Mokhobo is the sixth SABC CEO – including those who were appointed in an acting capacity – to be in charge of the broadcaster since 2009. Before her, there was Dali Mpofu, who quit after accepting a R14 million settlement, Gab Mampone, who left under a cloud, and Solly Mokoetle, who was also paid millions of rand before his departure.

Former chief financial officer Robin Nicholson, who also acted in the CEO’s post, has taken the SABC to court for unceremoniously terminating his contract. Phil Molefe, who was the last executive to act as CEO, has returned to his job as group executive responsible for TV and radio news.

A senior staff member not authorised to speak to the media, said: “Where have you seen such a senior position advertised for three working days? This is bad. Where have you seen a big corporation like the SABC with a COO without qualifications?”

Hannes du Buisson, the president of the Broadcasting, Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union, confirmed that his union had received “concerns and complaints” about how the advertisement was worded.

“I have received quite a lot of complaints from staff about why there is no qualifications requirement in the advertisement. I can’t say it was drafted for him but there is suspicion,” Du Buisson said.

Communication Workers’ Union spokesman Matankana Mothapo said they would support Motsoeneng’s appointment.

“Let’s not talk about his qualifications. Let’s talk about skills. He understands the SABC. In the shortest time he has been at the SABC, he has done well. We are happy with him,” Mothapo said.

In May 2008, the SABC was plunged into turmoil when its board suspended Mpofu, who had a day earlier suspended ex-news chief Snuki Zikalala for allegedly leaking a confidential document to ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa.

The document in question related to a labour case involving Motsoeneng, who was at the time a current affairs executive producer for Lesedi FM. Motsoeneng was fired in 2007 and Mpofu had pushed Zikalala to reinstate him, but Zikalala refused.

Motsoeneng, according to an internal audit document, misled the SABC about his qualifications when he landed a job as a junior reporter in 1996. The SABC had tried, at least on more than two occasions, to obtain Motsoeneng’s matric certificate but failed.

Sources say the Zuma camp, which had triumphed in Polokwane in 2007, needed to take control of the SABC in a bid to clean his image. In the run-up to the Polokwane conference, those in the Zuma camp complained that Mpofu, who was said to be in Thabo Mbeki’s camp, favoured the former president with positive coverage and Motsoeneng was his antithesis. - Sunday Tribune





The SABC TV Licences

We have had a TV licence since the inception of TV in 1975 and our accounts have always been paid on time.  

Our accounts have been sent to the same Box No  (a box which we have had at the Sandton Post Office for 40 years) and proof of postings to this box are shown below. 

After our payment reflected on the 28th March 2007, and for some brain dead reason only known to the SABC, the SABC illegally and without our permission or knowledge changed our address to a residential address ( spelt incorrectly ) which we left 22 years ago and which was never used by us as a postal address or ever given by us as a postal address! 

Consequently the Yearly statement was sent to a physical address which was not our address and the spelling was incorrect.

We have been threatened by the firm of Legal Thugs, Munnik Basson Degama Inc, whose reputation proceeds them ( they have 618 complaints on 32 pages against them on Hellopeter )  to pay our TV licence with penalties and legal costs. We have refused to pay any penalties or Legal costs. We have not refused to pay our TV Licence. ( The correct Statement without Penalties will be deducted from our costs of R 7000-00. 

They have refused to correct our address to the correct box number and are demanding that we make an affidavit to change our address, which we have refused as we did not change our address in the first place.

They are threatening us with Jail terms unless we pay their demands 

We have incurred costs already of R 2500-00 together with our costs of R 4500-00 to publish the documents  which they have in their possession, but being incompetent, they don’t know what to do 

Daily harassment in the form of  late night calls and heavy breathing  to the extent that we have changed our Cell phone Numbers and are in the process of changing our land lines. 

I am now publishing the letters showing the type of incompetence and criminality which exists at the SABC and demand that our postal address is corrected, that an apology be given for publication, that all the penalty costs are removed and that our  costs plus the publication costs of R 4500-00 a Total R 7000-00 are paid.

A confirmation from the NCR must also be obtained clearing my name and exposing them. 

A Company such as this Managed by a Chief Operating Officer, Lior Woznica, which uses bullying and unethical tactics has no place in South Africa. 

The Munnik Basson Dagame Inc. Letter of the 16th August 2011 which was emailed on a open Basis to a Business with total disregard to the new Consumer Act.

Two  Statements confirming that the Sandton Box was the postal address


The SABC Statement with the Incorrect Address changed by the SABC



Source : Paid By Client





Legal threats over debts 'empty'

Firm of attorneys 'unlikely to issue summons and incur costs'

May 09, 2008 Edition 1

Don't panic if it feels like you are being bombarded by letters of demand or text messages from

attorneys Munnik Basson DaGama Inc, threatening you with action for a debt you do not owe.

Chances are remote that they will issue summons, say attorneys Argus Action approached after

Barbara Hart of Cape Town complained that she was getting nowhere trying to convince Munnik

Basson DaGama that she did not owe a debt that grew with every demand they sent.

The firm of attorneys did not respond to Argus Action's request for comment.

Hart is reluctant to give her ID number to prove to them that they are hounding the wrong person.

"I don't trust them. And in this age of identity theft, we are cautioned not to give our personal

details to strangers," she said.

The onus is on the attorneys or debt collectors to prove the identity of the debtor, says

Johannesburg attorney Stephen Logan.

It was likely that Munnik Basson DaGama had bought a debtors' book from the retail chain store

in question, and was now trying to trace unpaid debts, said Logan.

But the debt, dating back to 2001, was prescribed (lapsed).

If Hart gave her identity number to Munnik Basson DaGama, they would have evidence that she

was the wrong person, as they had the ID number of the actual debtor.

"Munnik Basson DaGama will close the file in two seconds if they get proof that she's not the


Hart complained that the demands contained no information about the so-called debt.

Her repeated phone calls to Munnik Basson DaGama's call centre in Johannesburg, and a letter

she wrote explaining that she was not the debtor they sought, had made no impression. The

letters of demand continued to arrive.

Logan said Hart could complain to the Law Society, as the demands were from a firm of

attorneys, over whom the Council for Debt Collectors had no jurisdiction.

Cape Town attorney Malcolm Roup said Munnik Basson DaGama had SMSed a final demand to


"The SMS said if I did not phone their number, action would follow. I didn't owe money and did

not know what they were talking about."

He had phoned, but could not get through to the call centre.

"My advice is to not co-operate with them. Most of their stuff is just letters and threats. The

chances are they are not going to issue summons. They are not going to incur costs," said Roup.

Their approach was not correct. "They must give debtors more particulars. They must set out the

cause of the debt."

Another lawyer, who asked not to be named, said Hart could ignore the demands once she had

set the necessary safeguards in place.

"Invite them to issue summons, and provide an address so that they do not use the wrong one.

"If you tell them you dispute the claim, they also cannot list you at a credit bureau."

We investigate consumers' complaints, highlight issues affecting consumers and call businesses

to account. Contact us at Box 56, Cape Town, 8000; on 021 488 4791; or e-mail






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