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Comments on the National Integrated ICT Policy Green Paper, January 2014

30 March 2014

1. Introduction and background to the SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition:
1.1. The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition welcomes the opportunity to
make comments on government’s National Integrated ICT Policy Green
Paper, January 2014.
1.2. The SOS Coalition represents a broad spectrum of civil society stakeholders
committed to the broadcasting of quality, diverse, citizen-orientated public-
interest programming aligned to the goals of the SA Constitution. The
Coalition includes a number of trade union federations including COSATU
and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and
MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including
the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs
including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa
(MMA), SECTION 27, the Right 2 Know Campaign and a number of
academics and freedom of expression activists.
1.3. The SOS Coalition envisages and campaigns for a digital content landscape
1.3.1. Includes a diversity of programming and content that reflects the
diversity of South Africa including those marginalised through issues of
race, class, gender, age, disability and sexual orientation;
1.3.2. Includes increased local content;
1.3.3. Includes increased African language programming and content;
1.3.4. Includes increased public and community programming and content;
1.3.5. Includes increased genres of programming;
1.3.6. Ensures that the majority of quality programming and content is free to
air and accessible to all people living in South Africa;
1.3.7. Ensures dialogic communications, so that all people living in South
Africa have the ability both to receive and impart information, knowledge
and ideas and not just be the recipients of messages from a few
information providers; and
1.3.8. Ensures the sustainability of all broadcasters including in particular free
to air broadcasters as these broadcasters are more accessible to all
1.4. The SOS Coalition envisages a public broadcaster and community
broadcasters that:
1.4.1. Strengthen the goals of the South African Constitution, especially the
Bill of Rights, including socio-economic rights;
1.4.2. Have strong institutional autonomy that is independent of sectional,
political, commercial and personal interests;
1.4.3. Deliver programming under-pinned by the principles of quality, fairness,
credibility, reliability, variety and balance;
1.4.4. Deliver programming that reflects the full range of South African
opinions at national and local levels including the views of women, the
old, the youth, the poor, unemployed, rural and informal settlement
residents and LGTB communities;
1.4.5. Lead the broadcasting sector on African language and local content
1.4.6. Deliver programming that includes Africa-wide and international issues
from a South African perspective; and
1.4.7. Deliver programming that is commissioned and broadcast in the public
1.5. Please see SOS vision document.

2. Overview of submission:
2.1. Given the scope of the Coalition’s work the SOS submission’s focus is on
broadcasting and content issues.
2.2. The submission is broken into four sections – Overall comments on the
Green Paper; Comments on Chapter 3 – “The Current State of the South
African Communications Sector”; Comments on Chapter 8 – “Broadcasting”;
and comments on critical issues not sufficiently debated in the Green Paper.

3. Overall comments on the Green Paper:
3.1. The Coalition has been campaigning for an overhaul of broadcasting policy
since 2008. Coalition members therefore welcome the release of the National
Integrated ICT Policy Green Paper.
3.2. However, SOS members are disappointed at the insufficient analysis of the
deep-seated problems in the broadcasting and content sectors and the lack
of forward-looking international research on content possibilities for the digital
age. The Coalition believes that it is imperative that government sets aside
sufficient resources for substantive research and analysis. It shouldn’t be left
to cash-strapped civil society or industry with vested interests to do the
diagnosis of ICT sector challenges or sketch out future options.
3.3. Further, Coalition members are disappointed that reader-friendly versions
and translations of the Green Paper have not been made readily available.
3.4. In terms of overall content issues the Coalition is disappointed by the Green
Paper’s over-emphasis on telecommunications issues. Also, on protection of
information issues rather than on the free-flow of information. Coalition
members are further disappointed at the Green Paper’s lack of analysis on
digital migration issues and the critical role of the independent regulator,
ICASA in the sector.
3.5. Overall the Coalition notes the necessity for regulation – albeit new
appropriate regulation for the digital age.
3.6. SOS members believe that given the serious gaps and inadequacies in the
Green Paper, the Paper should be reviewed and revised before the release
of the Discussion Document.

4. Chapter 3 - "The current state of the SA communications sector".
4.1. Coalition members note that this chapter is broken up into separate sections
on the electronic communications sector, broadcasting services, postal
services and e services.
4.2. SOS notes that unfortunately the broadcasting section is descriptive with no
clear overview of the different tiers of broadcasting (public, community and
commercial), the challenges, problems and possible solutions.
4.2.1. The many issues not covered include the following: The potential impact of Digital Terrestrial TV and the impact of
the endless delays of the digital migration process on the
broadcasting sector as a whole; Oversight, governance and financial crises at the SABC and the
impact of this on SABC programming; Censorship of programming at the SABC including both political
and commercial censorship; Governance, oversight and financial challenges in the
community media sector and the impact of the above on community
programming. The dominance of DSTV in the pay-TV market and the
challenges created as a result for the pay-TV industry, free-to-air
broadcasting and the broadcasting sector as a whole.
4.2.2. The Coalition notes the work done by the Media Policy and Democracy
Project based at Rhodes University and Unisa. Prof Jane Duncan and Dr
Julie Reid have developed a measurement tool for the monitoring of
media diversity and pluralism in South Africa. The tool employs a people-
centred bottom-up methodology that focuses on people’s access to
content i.e. whether a media platform’s distribution reaches certain media
users and accessibility of that content i.e. whether issues such as
language and cost are acting as barriers to actual take up of available
content. SOS is campaigning for government to use this tool to assess
the state of content diversity in the country. Please see link for a more in-
depth analysis of the tool.
4.2.3. Comments: Although the 5 issues outlined above are dealt with to some
extent in the broadcasting chapter, we believe that analysis of
the problem areas and the “state of the sector” should be dealt
with here in this Chapter. The Coalition proposes that going forward a bottom-up,
people-centred, participatory diversity diagnosis tool should be
used by government to assess the state of diversity of content
in the ICT sector.

4.3. Definitions of diversity
4.3.1. Coalition members note that there is no specific definition of “diversity”
in the Green Paper although a good definition is included in the Framing
Paper. The Framing paper states, “South Africans have a right to access
a diverse range of information, opinion and news of relevance to their
communities and lives”. One issue however is missing in this definition –
the need for people to be able to interact and “talk back”.
4.3.2. Although there is no definition in the Green Paper diversity seems to be
about individual choice. It is about reflection of different cultures and
languages. It is about black economic empowerment. We thus have an
emphasis on critical issues of race but no emphasis on critical issues of
class and gender. There is no emphasis on diversity of ideas. There is no
emphasis of diversity of ideas for active citizenship.
4.3.3. Comments: The definition of “diversity” included in the Framing Paper
must be included in the Green Paper. Further, this inclusive
definition - emphasising idea diversity - should inform all
discussions on diversity going forward. Further, the definition
needs to be extended to include people’s right to “talk back”
and interact. The new definition should include the following,
“South Africans have a right to access AND INTERACT WITH a
diverse range of PROGRAMMING, information, opinion and
news of relevance to their communities and lives”.

5. Chapter 8 – Broadcasting
5.1. The chapter outlines the impact of convergence and digitisation on
broadcasting. Its particular focus however is on convergence. Very little is
included on digital migration.
5.1.1. The Green Paper states that technological changes pose both threats
and opportunities. The Green Paper summarises these as follows: Opportunity - It will enrich diversity and allow South Africans to
access news, information and entertainment programming from a
range of different sources (local and international) and enable us to
tell the South African story to an international audience. Threat – Public interest content reflecting the cultural, social and
linguistic diversity of the country is under threat. Traditional
broadcasters will face increasing competition from players that will
not be regulated. Threat – it will be more difficult to regulate content harmful to
5.1.3. It is true that a diversity of content is available but it is important
to highlight the fact that without regulatory and other interventions
this content will be focused on certain more affluent socio-
economic groupings.
5.1.4. It is true that public interest content is under threat in this new
environment. One of the reasons is because traditional public
service and community broadcasters are under threat. However, the
Green Paper does not offer any analysis of why these broadcasters
are under threat, how this undermines content diversity and what to
do about it. From our own analysis the problems with public
broadcasting in the digital age include the following: Internationally public funding for public broadcasting is
under threat. Public funds for public broadcasting are shrinking (Lowe
and Berg, 2013). License fees where they exist are being put under
pressure. Commercial broadcasters and now also print
media are fiercely contesting the right of public
broadcasters to access license fee funding – they argue
that this creates “distortions in the market” (Lowe and
Berg, 2013). Linked to the above public broadcasting
programming is becoming less distinctive and more
commercial. There are a number of reasons including lack
of public funds. As public funds dry up public
broadcasters are being forced more and more to rely on
commercial funding sources. This generally impacts
negatively on their public mandate and the distinctiveness
of their programming. Then as public broadcasting content
becomes less distinctive it becomes harder for
broadcasters to argue for special public funding sources!
There is a downward spiral. Internationally there have been shifts back to state
broadcasting (Lowe and Berg, 2013; Dragomir, 2008). This
is particularly in countries which have experienced
authoritarian regimes in the recent past and where “public”
as opposed to “state” broadcasting is a relatively new
phenomenon e.g. East and Central Europe (See Dragomir,
2008, Lowe and Berg, 2013). Research on public broadcasting and public media
issues globally conducted by the Nordic Information
Centre for Media and Communications Research
(Nordicom) has looked at how to “regain the initiative for
public service media”. One of the key issues that they have
raised includes the “absolute necessity of independence
from the control of either government or business
interests” (Lowe and Steemers, 2011). Further, they have
stressed the importance of public service broadcasters/
public service media organisations continually aligning
their operations with the audiences they serve. In this context the SOS Coalition believes strongly
that the following is needed: The SABC must concentrate on its public
mandate including the credibility, distinctiveness, and
diversity of its programming. It is through the delivery
of this kind of independent public service
programming that the SABC will be able to carve out a
central role for itself in the new digital, multi-channel
6 To produce such programming the SABC must
safeguard its institutional autonomy. Further, public
funds must be made available but this should not be a
blank cheque. (See below for further discussions on
funding.) Legislative, regulatory and other measures
must be introduced to ensure the SABC adopts a
culture of transparency, openness and accountability.
The SABC must build strong alliances in particular
with its audiences.

5.2. The Green Paper states that many countries have adopted or are reviewing
their broadcasting policy frameworks in light of convergence and digitisation.
The Green Paper does not refer to any particular country examples.
However, the Green Paper (2014: 44) argues that the following principles are
key to various countries’ public policy objectives:
5.2.1. ensure access of diverse content for all, including locally produced
public interest programming;
5.2.2. promote diversity of ownership and control of content services and limit
media concentration;
5.2.3. ensure fair competition between different content services;
5.2.4. protect audiences from illegal content; and
5.2.5. ensure that community standards are agreed and met and that children
are protected from harmful content.
5.2.6. Comments: It is interesting to note the specific issues highlighted by
government in the Green Paper. The first three bullet points are important and issues that
should be highlighted. The last two bullets are problematic. Bullet 4 refers to protection of audiences from “illegal
content”. It is important to unpack what is meant by this “illegal
content”. Bullet 5 rings alarm bells – what is meant by “community
standards”? The emphasis is skewed. We need to be looking at
international best practice that points the way to ensuring
diversity of content that emphasises diversity of ideas
including diversity of ideas for active citizenship. We need
to emphasise the free flow of information. We need to be tracking international best practice
case studies that illuminate ways to fulfil these principles.

5.3. Defining broadcasting – The Green Paper (2014: 45) points out that the
Electronic Communications Act, 2005, includes a technology neutral
definition of broadcasting. However, in the future, on demand services,
including those available over the internet “may be a substitute for traditional
television broadcasting” and therefore require some form of regulation but
this would require a legislative amendment. The Green Paper asks for
comment re: whether a legislative amendment should be made.
5.3.1. Comment:
7 The Coalition believes that ultimately significant content
will be delivered via the internet and in terms of video-on-
demand services. This requires a change to the definition of
broadcasting to include broadcasting and “broadcasting-like”
content in the definition to allow for regulation of both. The Coalition believes that the Department of
Communications should explore international diversity
regulations in terms of video-on-demand services to ensure a
diversity of content and views. Researchers, Kaltenbach and
Joux (2012: 2) observe that on-demand services leave internet
users to decide what deserves to be read, viewed and
heard.This freedom is exercised in the context of heavily
personalised catalogues, reflecting users’ wishes and histories.
However, on-demand services have the potential to help people
discover what they don't already know. The authors argue that
for democracy to thrive it is important that people develop the
attribute of curiosity; that they accept difference; and that they
search for new contents, ideas and experiences that are not
part of their personal world of references. The authors argue
that to create this culture, providers may have to accept public
service obligations of some kind. They look at the regulation of
on-demand services in a European context and observe that
the 2007 Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive includes
so-called non-linear, on-demand or point-to--point services. The
inclusion of on-demand services in the AVMS directive is
significant as this means that they can now be subject to
regulation for the protection and promotion of cultural
diversity. Different national regulators can require service
providers to meet standards of pluralism and diversity in the
range of products they offer. These regulations should be

5.4. Regulatory parity – The Green Paper (2014:45) notes the issue of “regulatory
parity”. The Green Paper states that this principle is, “based on principles of
fair competition and technological neutrality and aims to ensure that like
services are treated in a similar manner, regardless of how they are
delivered! or what device is used to access them.” The Paper goes on to
state that although at one level this seems like a logical way forward it is
more difficult to implement in practice. Traditional linear broadcasting has a
range of requirements (related to primetime viewing) which are not
necessarily relevant for on-demand services.
5.4.1. Comment: The Coalition believes that there are problems with the term
“regularity parity”. The term has the potential to hide a political
agenda that is committed to significant de-regulation of
broadcasting to the detriment of public interest goals such as
the provision of language and local content. The Coalition notes that although non-broadcasters will be
moving into the broadcasting space it is critical that a variety of
mechanisms are explored including possible regulatory
measures to ensure the provision of local and language content
across a variety of platforms.

5.5. Net neutrality – The Green Paper points to the importance of net neutrality as
critical to the changing environment to ensuring regulatory parity and fair
competition between different content providers.
5.5.1. Comment: SOS believes that the issue of net neutrality is critical
especially as the prediction is that more and more content will
move on-line. We note Verhulst’s (2011: 6) definition that, “Net neutrality
is a network design principle that argues for a ‘neutral’ public
network carrying every form of information and supporting
every kind of application, without discrimination or preferential
treatment”. The concern is that this architecture will be reworked
through a process of “access-tiering” so that certain content
will be privileged and other content potentially blocked. We believe that access tiering will allow the big content
providers to have faster sites and to display richer, more varied
multi-media content than smaller, often independent
organisations or individuals. The internet could in effect find
itself with a “fast-lane” for rich and powerful creators and a
“slow lane” for less powerful users (See Verhulst, 2011). We
believe that this situation must be avoided at all costs. We note the potential problems as regards competition that
an access-tiering system could create: ISPs might seek to favour content produced by their
own company and limit the content produced by
competitors ISPs could leverage their gatekeeper position by
selling favourable access on the network to certain
players, thus also affecting market arrangements The Coalition believes that “net neutrality” should be one of
the key over-arching principles underpinning the Green Paper.
The Coalition in particular refers the Department of
Communications to the principles underpinning the “net
neutrality” legislation passed in the Netherlands in May 2012.

5.6. Cross-border audio-visual services – The Green Paper states that the
internet has global reach. The Green Paper (2014: 46) asks how do we
reinforce SA broadcasting and other content services to ensure they can
compete with international services. The Green Paper does not unpack this
5.6.1. Comment: We believe that the emphasis here should be on boosting
the credibility, professionalism, quality and creativity of SA
9 The overall aim should be to create a powerful independent
production industry and also powerful in-house broadcaster
capacity. Some of the measures should include: Shifting the intellectual property rights regime as
regards broadcasters so that independent producers get to
exploit their IP rights on a number of different platforms
and also in a number of territories (i.e. different countries); Focusing on various ways to support independent
content production including strengthening the Trade and
Industry tax rebate system and strengthening the support
role of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF); Investigating setting up an independent local content
fund to support the production of local content across a
number of platforms; and Strengthening the regulatory capacity of ICASA to
monitor local content provision in a multi-platform
environment. Building and supporting regional and Africa-wide
initiatives to effectively market and distribute South
African, Southern African and African content.

5.7. Three tier broadcasting system – The Green Paper (2014: 46) emphasises
the importance of SA’s three-tier broadcasting system and argues that one of
the key reasons for the implementation of this system is to facilitate freedom
of expression and ensure objectives relating to diversity and content are met.
The Paper (2014: 46, 47) states that:
5.7.1. The public broadcaster has a mandate set out in its Charter to fulfil
goals such as universal access, language and educational programming
5.7.2. Private broadcasters contribute to public interest goals through
increasing diversity of ownership and boosting the independent
production sector. Also, private broadcasters contribute to diversity
through certain stipulations re commitments to air SA content,
commitments to broadcast news and information programming and
commissioning independent producers.
5.7.3. Community broadcasters contribute to diversity of ownership and
content at community level. The Green Paper (2014: 47) states,
“Community broadcasters must provide a distinct broadcasting service
dealing specifically with community issues that are not normally
addressed by other broadcasting services available”.
5.7.4. Comments: The Green Paper is correct in emphasising the importance
of the three-tier broadcasting system however the Paper is not
sufficiently critical of the present operations of this system.
SOS believes that due to a lack of public funding in the sector
each tier is heavily commercialised ultimately undermining the
diversity of the broadcasting landscape as a whole. However, SOS members believe that there are a number of
practical measures that can be introduced to strengthen each
tier. See below for detailed suggestions.
10 Please note that the emphasis of the Coalition’s
recommendations is on the public and community tiers. In
terms of the commercial tier the Coalition is particularly
concerned about the growing dominance of pay-TV to the
detriment of free-to-air TV. SOS is worried about the
development of a two tier content system – where those people
who can afford to pay will flee the free-to-air system thus
creating a new economic apartheid for content. Further, the
Coalition is concerned about the particular dominance of DSTV
in the pay-TV market and the impact this has on the
sustainability and viability of other subscription broadcasters.
The Coalition believes that the following measures need to be
implemented / investigated to ensure the greater sustainability
of free-to-air broadcasters and a more level playing field for all
new entrants. Caps on advertising for subscription broadcasters so
as to ensure greater commercial revenue sources are
available to free-to-air TV; Measures to ensure access to premium content for
all broadcasters; and Interoperability of set top boxes. Please note that
SOS sees the issue of interoperability of set top boxes as a
particularly critical issue.

5.8. Public broadcasting – The Green Paper (2014: 47-48) includes a number of
sections on the SABC.
5.8.1. The Green Paper sets out the following facts about the SABC: The SABC has 15 public radio stations, 3 Public commercial
radio stations, 2 public TV channels and one public-commercial
channel. It has a further two regional licenses that were granted to
ICASA in 2005 but these licenses were not issued due to lack of
funding. The SABC will be migrating to digital and this will allow for more
channels. This will enable the broadcaster to better meet its public
mandate especially its public mandate on TV. However a new
funding arrangement needs to be assessed for this environment. No
suggestions are put forward as to ways to fund these new channels. Comments: The Green Paper doesn’t mention in this section that
the SABC is running a 24 hour news channel on the pay-TV
DSTV platform and the problems associated with this.
Problems include: The fact that the 24 hour news channel is not
available to all people in the country. There is the potential for creating a two-tier
system where resources are concentrated in the pay-
division. That funding for the channel comes from
dominant pay operator DSTV which further entrenches
DSTV’s dominance.
11 The deal allegedly gives DSTV exclusive/
privileged access to the SABC’s archives. But these
archives are a national resource. The deal includes clauses that force the SABC
to agree to the production of set top boxes without
conditional access systems, despite the fact that this
goes against government policy. The Green Paper doesn’t mention the fact that the
SABC plans to launch a second entertainment channel on
the DSTV platform. The SABC however has promised that it will launch
both the entertainment and news channels on the DTT
platform when this platform eventually comes on line. SOS believes that the challenges and
controversies outlined above have significant
implications for policy. SOS believes these include the
following: That these problems point once again to the
fact that the SABC requires a re-crafted funding
model. It seems one of the key reasons why the
SABC entered into this commercial arrangement
was that government had refused to fund its 24
hour news and other digital channels. The
Coalition believes that a certain amount of public
funding is required to launch and sustain new
digital channels. (Detailed costings however have
to be conducted by the SABC for these channels.)
SOS believes that the SABC should not be
launching new channels on inaccessible pay
platforms (See below for further discussions on
funding.) That these problems once again point to lack
of oversight, transparency and accountability of
the SABC. It should not have been possible for
SABC executives to enter into confidential
commercial arrangements that firstly
compromised the SABC’s archives and secondly
contradicted government policy. SOS believes strongly that policy must
safeguard the SABC archives as a national
resource. SOS has carefully analysed the roles of the
various oversight bodies at the SABC including
the Minister, Parliament, ICASA, the SABC Board
and the general public. Please see SOS vision
document. SOS calls on the Department of
Communications to clarify these critical oversight
roles as regards future policy. SOS notes that lack of oversight of the
SABC is not only (or even mainly) about
issues of policy but about political will. SOS
calls on all oversight bodies to demonstrate
political will.

5.8.2. The Green Paper very briefly looks at the transformation of the SABC
from a state to a public broadcaster. One of the key issues it mentions is
the role of the Broadcasting White Paper, 1998 in this transformation and
the role of the Broadcasting Act, 1999. It points out the importance of the
SABC’s legislated Charter. The Green Paper does not include a critique of the SABC’s
Charter. It assumes that the Charter works. Comment: However, there are a number of problems with the
SABC’s Charter. These problems include the fact that the
Charter clauses are scattered through a number of
sections of the Broadcasting Act, 1999. This makes it
difficult to implement and monitor the Charter. SOS members believe that the Charter needs
to be redrafted as part of a public process and needs
to be reviewed at regular intervals. See SOS Vision document to see a suggested
re-draft of the present Charter.

5.8.3. The Green Paper (2014: 48) looks at funding issues: It points to the fact that the SABC has been divided into two
divisions a public and public commercial division. The White Paper,
1998 identified the need to restructure the SABC in order for it to
prioritise its public mandate while at the same time generating cash
from its commercial activities. The funding of the SABC consists of commercial advertising and
sponsorship fees (80%), license fees (18%) and government funding
(3%). The division into public and public-commercial wings was to
ensure further funding for the SABC. However, the Green Paper
mentions the fact that the SABC has never kept separate accounting
records for the different divisions so it is difficult to tell whether this
system is in fact working. The SABC has called for its funding model to be reviewed. It
specifically highlighted challenges linked to license fees. Comments: The Green Paper doesn’t mention the fact that
extensive research (Afrimap, 2010) points to the fact that
the SABC’s public-commercial division (ironically) doesn’t
make as much money as the public division thus bringing
into question the efficacy and validity of the whole cross-
subsidisation model (Afrimap 2010). The Green Paper does not refer to research
recommendations (Afrimap, 2010) and civil society
proposals to “cost the public mandate” of the SABC before
crafting a new funding model.
13 SOS believes that the issue of funding is critical and
is disappointed that an in-depth financial analysis has not
been conducted as part of the Green Paper review process. SOS believes that the issue of public broadcast
funding is so important that a special workshop should be
organised by the Department of Communications to debate
the issues. The outcomes and recommendations of this
workshop should be fed into the policy process. SOS notes the importance of public funding for
public broadcasting but is mindful of the fact that this
funding must be insulated from government control. SOS notes international research (Lowe and Berg,
2013) that points to the dangers of direct government
grants and budget allocations for the independence of
public broadcasters. Lowe and Berg, 2013 argue that
although there are problems with license fee funds, these
are still preferable to other funding methods because the
latter creates a direct link to audiences. SOS members have debated a number of possible
funding options. Key recommendations include: for the SABC’s mandate to be costed; for funding issues to be analysed across the
broadcasting sector as a whole to ensure diverse,
accessible content across all three tiers of
broadcasting; and for the SABC’s cross-subsidisation model to
be scrapped and for all SABC TV channels, radio
stations, websites and other platforms to be public.
See SOS Vision document.

5.8.4. The Green Paper states that ICASA’s content regulations outline
minimum requirements for public and commercial services for radio and
television. The content regulations for TV are more detailed. The Green Paper (2014: 48) notes that the SABC has stated in
its annual reports that it has complied with these quotas and often
exceeded the latter. The Green Paper notes that members of the
public have raised questions about ICASA’s monitoring of
compliance and that ICASA has not held hearings into alleged non-
compliance. Comments: The Green Paper significantly underplays the crisis
around issues of the production of local content at the
SABC. The South African Screen Federation (SASFED) is in
the process of taking the Regulator to court due to its
failures to monitor implementation of these quotas. SOS
supports this legal action. The Green Paper does not sufficiently unpack the
impact of the SABC’s funding crisis (2008/ 2009). The
SABC was unable to pay its debts and suffered a serious
cash-flow crisis that had a devastating impact on the
independent production sector. The sector was brought to
its knees. To pay back its immediate debts the SABC was
forced to accept a government guarantee to allow the
Corporation to borrow from commercial banks. In order to
pay back this commercial loan the SABC (ironically given
the fact that its primary purpose is broadcast of
programming) cut back on local content commissioning.
The SABC has not put out a substantial request for
proposals (RFP) book since September 2008. SOS calls for the following policy orientated
solutions to be implemented: The Regulator to be empowered (through a
variety of funding and capacity measures) to play its
key monitoring role in terms of the monitoring of local
content quotas and also license conditions. For Parliament to hold the Regulator to
account in terms of its promised electronic monitoring
system. For Parliament to hold the SABC to account in
terms of the re-introduction of transparent, fair and
ethical commissioning systems. SOS believes that the
RFP system is such a commissioning system.

5.8.5. The Green Paper (2014: 49) refers to major issues around governance
of the SABC. The Paper states that Parliament has raised lack of
accountability, poor financial and other controls. Parliament has raised
the importance of: Clarifying lines of accountability between the Minister as
shareholder on behalf of government, ICASA and Parliament. The Green Paper unpacks problems with the Parliamentary
process of selecting the non-exec members of the SABC Board and
calls for a review of this mechanism. The Green paper points out that the appointment of executive
members of the Board is clarified in the SABC’s memorandum and
articles of association. Comments: The Green Paper fails to mention that it is not only
Parliament that has noted problems around governance
issues but most importantly the unions, independent
producers and civil society organisations. (Parliament has
in fact played a very disappointing role in holding the
SABC to account.) It does not give an indication of the
intensity and depth of governance problems. It does not
mention the outcomes of a critical Auditor General report,
2009 (initiated by SABC unions) noting the very serious
implications of poor leadership at the SABC. It does not
mention the fact that the continued existence of poor
leadership and governance has been re-confirmed by a
number of Parliamentary reports including a Special
Investigating Union (SIU) Report, the PWC Skills Audit
Report and the Public Protector’s Report “When
Governance and Ethics Fail” released in 2014. The Green Paper does not sufficiently deal with
problems around the appointment of the SABC board
including executive members: The Green Paper does not mention the very serious
problems caused by the fact that the Broadcasting Act,
1999 fails to clarify the appointment process for executive
members and that the process outlined by the SABC’s
Articles of Association which includes approval by the
Minister is deeply flawed. The SOS Coalition and its civil
society partners are considering legal action as this has
caused non-stop appointment crises at the SABC since
2008. The Coalition believes that this practice has shifted
the broadcaster in a “state broadcaster” direction. SOS calls on the Department of Communications to
immediately ensure that policy enshrines the principle that
executive members of the Board are appointed by the non-
executive members of the Board alone. SOS calls for the strengthening of Board
appointments in line with its Vision document.

5.9. Community broadcasting – The Green Paper (2014: 51) states that
community broadcasting is: A distinct broadcasting service dealing specifically with
community issues not dealt with by other broadcasting services
covering the area Non-profit in terms of law Channels and stations need to involve targeted communities in
governance and operations
5.9.2. The Paper states that early challenges re: slow licensing processes
have been sorted out by the Electronic Communication Act’s (ECA’s)
new class license process which is largely a registration rather than an
application process. However, it has limited ICASA’s ability to scrutinise
applications in terms of diversity issues. Further the EC Act does not
allow ICASA to suspend, revoke or refuse to renew a license even when
stations are not fulfilling their public service obligations. The Green Paper
states that this is a problem area.
5.9.3. The Green Paper emphasised the need for the Regulator and Dept of
Communications to develop a planned roll out strategy to ensure that
communities in need are specifically targeted. The Green paper states
that the MDDA was also set up to assist the sustainability and
development of this sector. Progress has been made in this regard.
5.9.4. The Green Paper states that six community TV stations are now on air
centred around major cities in SA. They are transmitted terrestrially to
local audiences and also via DSTV to a national audience. Space has
been set aside on multiplex one for the community stations to be
broadcast on the digital terrestrial TV platform.
5.9.5. The funding mix of the community stations includes advertising,
donations and sponsorships. The Green Paper states that the greatest
challenge facing community TV is funding. Funding is needed to launch
new channels and to sustain those channels that are already on air.
5.9.6. Comment:
5.9.7. The Green Paper is: Too uncritical of the problems experienced by radio
stations serving poor geographical stations. Too uncritical of the role of the MDDA. The assumption is
that the Agency has done its job and that the public/ private
partnership has worked. It is critical that an in-depth evaluation
of the impact of the MDDA’s work is conducted. Too uncritical of the role of ICASA and its lack of
monitoring of stations. In terms of both community radio and TV the Green Paper
fails to explore previous Department of Communication’s
proposals (e.g. in the now withdrawn Public Service
Broadcasting Draft Bill, 2009). This involved public funding in
return for greater local government control over these stations.
SOS calls on government to explicitly reject any funding model
that ties community broadcasting to the dictates of provincial
and municipal authorities. Please note that the SOS Coalition endorses the Act-SA
submission and its recommendations.

6. Comments on critical issues not sufficiently debated
Coalition members believe that the Green Paper does not sufficiently debate the
critical issue of the role of the independent regulator, ICASA and migration to
digital terrestrial TV (DTT).
6.1.1. Comment ICASA: Policy and legislation must not seek to encroach on or
denude ICASA’s powers as was proposed in various iterations
of the ECA and ICASA amendment Bills. Instead, new ICT
policy must enable ICASA to fulfil its constitutional and
legislative mandates to the fullest degree. ICASA must be converted into a fully fledged Chapter 9
institution protected by the Constitution. For further details
please see the SOS Vision document.
6.1.2. Comment DTT: The Coalition believes that the digital migration process will
have a critical impact on the ICT landscape as a whole. The
SOS Coalition’s views on DTT include the following: That every effort must be made to ensure that the
digital migration process takes place as soon as possible
to ensure that the digital dividend (i.e. freed up spectrum)
is delivered. The Coalition notes the importance of this for
a number of services including mobile broadband. In terms of the digital dividend the Coalition notes the
importance of detailed public and transparent spectrum
planning processes so as to ensure effective use of
spectrum and thus the provision of a plethora of services
and content including public, community, local and
language content. SOS believes that this planning process
should be seen as an urgent priority. Further SOS believes that spectrum should not be
sold off to the highest bidder if this is to the detriment of
public interest goals. ICASA needs to ensure that public
interest obligations are prioritised in the allocation of the
digital dividend.

7. Conclusion
7.1. The SOS Coalition welcomes the opportunity to make this submission and
further welcomes the opportunity to debate these issues during an oral
7.2. SOS endorses the submissions of its members including the Right to Know
Campaign. Further, as mentioned above the SOS Coalition endorses and
support the Act-SA submission.

8. References:

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Less Independence – Follow up Reports 2008. EU Monitoring and Advocacy
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Duncan, J. and Reid, J. (2013) Toward a measurement tool for the monitoring of
media diversity and pluralism in South Africa: A public-centred approach,
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?ours Slncerely,

SekoeLlane !acob Þhamodl