Updated groff packages that fix this bug is now available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.
Groff is a document formatting system. Groff takes standard text and formatting commands as input and produces formatted output.
Prior to this update groff did not have full path commands in some places and used PATH variables when invoking external binaries. When opening a man page in a restricted shell environment the man page would not be displayed or an erroneous error message, "old character encoding and/or character set", appeared. With this update, groff now uses fully defined paths when invoking external binaries. As a result the man pages can now be displayed in a restricted shell environment.
All users of groff are advised to upgrade to these updated packages, which fixes this bug.