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Written Representations in Response to:

Draft Community Broadcasting Support


Scheme

Attention: Collin Dimakatso Mashile


Department of Communications
Tshedimosetso House
Cnr. Frances Baard and Festival streets
Hatfied, Pretoria
Email: cbssa@doc.gov.za

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1. Introduction
1.1. The SOS Support Public Broadcasting Coalition (SOS) welcomes the opportunity to
comment on the Draft Community Broadcast Support Scheme (Government Gazette
No. 676) dated 1 July 2015, issued by the Department of Communications (DoC).
1.2. SOS 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));
community TV stations (including Cape Town TV); a host of NGOs (including the
Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), and
SECTION27); and a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.
1.3. We make this submission in the interests of ensuring

public and community

broadcasting that is quality, diverse, people-oriented and committed to the


deepening of South Africas Constitution.
1.4. Further, should the Department and/or its entities decide to hold hearings in respect
of the Draft Scheme, SOS requests the opportunity to participate and to present its
views.
1.5. The SOS Coalition envisages a public broadcaster and community broadcasters that:
1.5.1. Strengthen the goals of the South African Constitution, especially the Bill of
Rights, including socio-economic rights;
1.5.2. Have strong institutional autonomy that is independent of sectional, political,
commercial and personal interests;
1.5.3. Deliver programming underpinned by the principles of quality, fairness,
credibility, reliability, variety and balance;
1.5.4. Deliver programming that reflects the full range of South African opinions at
national and local levels including (but not limited to) the views of women, the
old, the youth, the poor, unemployed, rural and informal settlement residents
and LGTBIAQ+ communities;
1.5.5. Deliver programming that is commissioned and broadcast in the public
interest.
1.6. In order to ensure that the positions contained in this submission were canvassed
with a broad range of stakeholders, SOS convened a round-table on 21 September.

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In attendance were the DoC, MDDA, academic institutions (University of South Africa
and Wits Radio Academy), community television representatives (1 KZN and Cape
TV), the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF), the National Association of
Broadcasters (NAB), the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism (IAJ),
community radio stations (Alex FM, Merafong FM), the Northern Cape NCRF,
Teardrop Media, and the Right2Know Campaign (R2K). Please see Appendix One
for a copy of the report.
1.7. SOS adopts the following overall positions and recommendations:
1.7.1. The DoC must not set up its own Unit. It must confine its role to policy
formulation, and the other agencies must be empowered to play their mandated
roles.
1.7.2. The powers and scope of the role of the Minister are unnecessary and open
the door for political capture.
1.7.3. Community, community of interest and geographical community need to
be clearly defined, and outside of vested commercial, political and other
sectarian interests.
1.7.4. Local languages needs defining it must include more than the official
languages of the particular province and/or local municipality where the station
concerned services a geographic community. Definitions need to also consider
marginalised languages within the defined community.
1.7.5. A more creative funding model must be developed and it should take
cognisance of potential income streams such as selling airtime to government
and others (e.g. religious organisations), training and skills development by
stations, and grant makers. It is imperative that a mixed and realistic set of
funding models be adopted.
1.7.6. The emphasis on investment, economic stimulation etc. does not fit the
existing framework where community broadcasters (particularly television) are
required to be not-for-profit.
1.7.7. The model being proposed appears to be weighted very much in favour of the
provincial broadcasting model. It is not clear how this will align with the existing
legislative and policy framework.
1.7.8. The Scheme must distinguish between public and community broadcasting,
each with their specific obligations.
1.7.9. Community television must cover provincial and local events and not just
national events (such as the State of the Nation Address), and must be

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specifically supported to do so. Specific provision also needs to be made for


underserved and marginalised groups.
1.7.10. While it is necessary for industry and government to increase their advertising
spend on community broadcasting, community broadcasters must be secured
against state or commercial capture through this or other schemes.
1.7.11. The funding application process must be simplified, and capacity must be built
within stations to secure funding. The DoC should provide funds, and the MDDA
should administer disbursements.
1.7.12. The DoC needs to provide more detailed financial calculations regarding
projections and costs.
1.7.13. Clarity is required on what will happen after the three years of the Scheme
particularly as it is incorrect to assume that community broadcasters will have
become financially sustainable within that time period.
1.7.14. The DoC should look at whether and how small commercial enterprises can
begin to operate in the sector as a strategy for promoting sustainability and
given the significant entrepreneurial spirit in the sector.

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2. Guiding Principles
2.1. SOSs positions are informed by international principles of community
broadcasting.
Broadcasting1

These principles are endorsed in the African Charter on


and

the

African

Principles

of

Freedom

of

Expression

Declaration 2:
2.1.1. Article 1 of Part III of the African Charter on Broadcasting provides, in its
relevant part: [c]ommunity broadcasting is broadcasting which is for, by and
about

the

community,

whose

ownership

and

management

is

representative of the community, which pursues a social development


agenda, and which is non-profit.
2.1.2. Article V.2 of the African Principles of Freedom of Expression
Declaration provides that community broadcasting shall be promoted given
its potential to broaden access by poor and rural communities to the
airwaves.
2.2. The 1991 Windhoek Declaration 3 is also a guide in respect of community
broadcasting:
2.2.1. Community broadcasting is broadcasting which is for, by and about
the

community,

and

whose

ownership

and

management

is

representative of the community, which pursues a social development


agenda and which is non-profit.
2.2.2. There should be a clear recognition, including by the international
community,

of

the

difference

between

decentralized

public

broadcasting and community broadcasting.


2.2.3. All community broadcasters should be enabled to have access to
the

Internet

and

to

use

it

in

the

interest

of

their

respective

communities.
2.3. SOS believes that the community broadcasting sector must be representative of
real geographic communities or communities of interest, and should not to
be beholden to commercial or government imperatives and interests.
2.4. SOS acknowledges that the challenges facing community broadcasting sector issues
are wide-ranging. In brief these are:
2.4.1. There are few sustainable public funding options for community
media, particularly in light of high transmission costs.

1

http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/files/5628/10343523830african_charter.pdf/african%2Bcharter.pdf
http://www.achpr.org/sessions/32nd/resolutions/62/
3
http://www.unesco.org/webworld/fed/temp/communication_democracy/windhoek.htm
2

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2.4.2. Governance structures of many community broadcasters are weak


and ineffective.
2.4.3. Many community broadcasters adopt commercial imperatives to
attract advertising in order to survive or align themselves closely with local
government structures in order to secure indirect government funding, thereby
jeopardising their editorial independence.
2.5. SOS further believes that a comprehensive and coherent framework for
community broadcasting is required that:
2.5.1.

is an alternative to the mainstream media;

2.5.2. embraces interactive communication tools;


2.5.3. promotes local, bottom-up development; and addresses local conditions.
3. Context and General Remarks
3.1. SOS welcomes governments commitment to build a strong community broadcasting
sector in South Africa.
3.2. However, SOS is extremely concerned that the proposed Scheme seeks to position
community broadcasters primarily as a platform to communicate messages about
service delivery and government programmes. This is even more pronounced in the
case of community television where the main drive seems to be towards a provincial
state broadcasting model.
3.3. SOS recognizes that it is essential for government to communicate with its citizens,
and that community broadcasters are a crucial platform for this. However, it should
not be at the expense of the letter and spirit of the national dispensation providing for
community broadcasting under Broadcasting Act as informed and shaped by
international charters, conventions and best practice. This is the primary defining
feature of community broadcasting and should not be diluted.
3.4. This engagement and support must be done in ways that prohibit state and
commercial interference with content so that community broadcasters can keep to
their principles and mandate.
3.5. SOS also notes that the proposed Scheme essentially seeks to formalise the role
that the DoC has been playing on an ad-hoc and informal basis since 1998 in
providing support to community radio through the Community Radio Support
Programme (CRSP). Notwithstanding the important contribution the DoC made
through the CRSP, the landscape has changed significantly since then. There are
now institutions in place, like the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDD)

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and the Universal Services Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA), with the
primary role and mandate of supporting community broadcasting.
3.6. Key principles that must guide how to best structure support to community
broadcasting must take account issues such as streamlining, efficiency and
effectiveness. Arms-length funding is also of critical importance which is why MDDA
has been set as an independent agency under the MDDA regulations.
3.7. In addition, the primary role for the Doc is policy and not implementation. We return
to this issue in greater detail in Section 8 of this submission which concerns
management of the Scheme.
3.8. The policy gap, with regard to community television, has hampered efforts to get it off
the ground. Efforts to provide more policy certainty and a prioritisation of
mechanisms to support community television is, therefore, welcomed. However, to
frame this outside of a public good/social enterprise orientation is to to essentially set
up community television stations as another platform for government, as well as to
commercialise it.
3.8.1.

SOS insists that the mandate of community television should remain

unchanged. It must remain:


o

locally (and hyper-locally) oriented and responsive to those local needs;

characterised by community ownership and control;

focussed on ensuring community participation in the development of its


values, editorial considerations and programming; and

driven by a developmental mandate.

4. Objectives and Scope of the Scheme


4.1. SOS welcomes the intention to include community television as a beneficiary of
support
4.2. SOS also welcomes the recognition that there is a rapidly converging digital
broadcasting environment. SOS notes that the proposed Scheme does not take this
into account sufficiently.
4.3. South Africas egregiously high mobile date and voice rates (confirmed by ICASAs
Cost to Communicate report4) is a key factor hampering the uptake of new media.
The

DoC

is

advised

to

explores

measures

that

can

assist

in

making

telecommunication costs more affordable for the majority of South Africans.

http://www.ellipsis.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/GG36532_gen574-ICASA-intention-to-implement-cost-tocommunicate-programme.pdf

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4.4. While it is important to ensure that community broadcasters are viable and
sustainable; and as part of a mixed funding model, it is necessary to explore options
such as attracting investment (including infrastructure investment) in the community
broadcasting sector, it is not clear what the business model for community television
looks like.
4.4.1.

There is no detail on what kinds of investments are envisaged, from where

and for what.


4.4.2.

The DoC is reminded that non-profit vehicles are not likely to attract the high

levels of investment it envisages.


4.5. The main objective for support, SOS would argue, it to strengthen and sustain
community broadcasting services so as to strengthen community participation and
skills in content and programming and governance, as well as encouraging and
facilitating other government departments and agencies to channel resources and
support to community broadcasters.
4.6. SOS notes the proposed allocation of funding from the Scheme: 70% for television
and 30% for radio.
4.6.1.
o

SOS further notes that additional ring-fencing of funding is also proposed:


The 30% allocation for radio will be further split as follows:

50% towards broadcast infrastructure (including upgrading and


maintenance);

20% towards signal distribution;

20% towards content production; and

10% towards training and capacity-building.

The 70% for community television is broken-down as:

50% for broadcast infrastructure;

20% for signal distribution; and

30% for content production,

with no provision made for training and capacity-building.


4.7. In the absence of concrete numbers and budgets it is very hard to assess what these
percentages will translate into, in reality. The budget allocation is based on
percentages and this is not particularly helpful or useful to be able to reliably forecast
the intended investment and assess whether it meets the need in each of these
areas, as well as define clear and achievable targets for the impact that the
investment can conceivably yield within the three year period.
4.7.1.

For example, unless these percentages are quantified it will not be possible to

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know whether the allocation proposed for community radio (30%) will be less than
its current budget allocation and / or an adequate allocation.
4.7.2.

In a presentation to the National Association of Broadcasters on 25 August

2015, the DoC provided the following figures for the 2015/16 2017/18 Medium
Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF):
4.7.2.1.

Community Radio Stations: R09 804m/ R10 324m/R10 840m

4.7.2.2.

Programme Production: R11 698m/R12 318m/R12 934m

4.7.2.3.

If the R9m for community radio is split as the DoC proposes, it will

translate into R2.7m for community radio and R6.3m for community
television for 2015/16. This is not likely to cover more than support to one
television station and two radio stations.
4.8. Detailed calculations and financial forecasting is required.
4.9. SOS questions whether the DoC has an indication of the number of community radio
stations that will be in need of upgrades, bearing in mind that many received their
equipment many years ago, and given the implications of new digital technologies.
This will have implications for content production.
4.10.

SOS welcomes a tailored approach to providing support. The community radio

sector have long decried the one-size-fits-all approach to funding, so funding


mechanisms that take into account a stations uniqueness and needs is important.
4.10.1. This could include geographic location, population density, levels of income
among other factors.
4.10.2. This is particularly important given the spatial and geographic socio-economic
inequalities that continue to prevail in South Africa.
4.11.

SOS is concerned that the support scheme will only be available for three

years. The rapid technological development in the broader industry is cited as a


reason for this5. However, this does not provide sufficient certainty for the sector.
4.12.

SOS is also extremely concerned about the proposals around prescribed

assistance6. Read together with the provisions in the Scheme on local content, a
very concerning trend is emerging which suggests a more direct role for the Minister
and Department of Communications in determining the nature and scope of local
content and programming.
4.12.1. The proposal to get directly involved in programme production again extends
the DoCs role from policy to implementation.

5

Draft Community Broadcasting Support Scheme, VIII


covers support facilitated and implemented by the CBSP to projects and non-prescribed assistance - covers
those areas requested and implemented by the projects / beneficiaries.

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4.12.2. This is inappropriate and in violation of the principles of community


broadcasting where community input in programming is important and also means
that programming will not be mainly responsive to local needs but rather imposed
from above.
4.12.3. The SPI report notes that for community television to have a legitimate social
role, it must be editorially independent of the funders and other revenue streams
and serve only the community.7
4.13.
SOS is concerned about an annual application process being imposed on
stations to access the proposed Scheme. Again, it does not provide sufficient
certainty to community broadcasters, and is onerous both in terms of application and
reporting given capacity and other constraints.
4.14.

Assessing and evaluating applications, financial and business plans requires

technical expertise and skills, particularly financial. This is an area that MDDA
already has capacity and experience in and represents a duplication (rather than a
streamlining) of current efforts by different organisations.
4.15.

Governance has been a long-standing challenge for community broadcasters,

so efforts to deal with this are important.


4.15.1. However, this requires detail, as well as a fleshing out of options for
broadcasters (e.g. non-profit company, voluntary association, trust).
4.15.2. There is also a need to recognise that conflict over resources often underlie
governance problems.
4.16.

Compliance is another long-standing problem. While requiring applicants to

demonstrate compliance (a tax clearance certificate from SARS and audited financial
statements) as important for accountability, merely having it as a requirement will do
little to alleviate the problem of non-compliance.
4.16.1. There are a range of reasons why this is a challenge, including governments
own inability to honour its commitment to a 30 day turnaround in its payment
process. As a result, government clients have been part of the frustration of
compliance for broadcaster(s). It is imperative that the DoC finds new solutions to
support compliance and access to subsidies
4.17.

The Pygma report also noted that many rural community stations have to

source services from out of town8.


4.17.1. Any support mechanism should also take into account the differing costs for
services in rural and urban areas9.

7

Sol Plaatjie Institute for Media Leadership (2012): Investigating the appropriate model for implementing
community TV in South Africa, pg. 14
8
Pygma Consulting (2011) Impact of the Department of Communications Community Radio Support
Programme, pg.47
9
ibid, pg. 53

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5. Community radio
5.1. SOS welcomes the inclusion of maintenance plans as an element of support for
community broadcasters, this is particularly important for rural and remote
broadcasters. This is also in line with the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) approach10
advocated in the Pygma report and in line with international benchmarks.
5.2. SOS also supports the prioritisation of stations located in rural areas, and would add
areas of low socio-economic status.
5.3. SOS also welcomes extended support being offered to help self-provisioning stations
preferring to continue on this path provided they comply with the relevant
regulations for self-provisioning of signal distribution.
5.3.1.The inclusion of self-providing stations is good. However, funding must be found
for all of them or the caveat funds permitting11 is highly likely to mean they will be
excluded from subsidies.
6. Community television
6.1. SOS acknowledges that television is a capital-intensive medium evidenced by its
capital requirements, complex business model, value chain and skills requirements,
and that government support (across the entire value chain in terms of managing the
operations, content creation, advertising and supporting industries) is crucial.
6.2. SOS is very concerned that the proposals in the proposed Scheme reveal a
significant back-tracking from the original vision and values for community
broadcasting which was predicated very much on it being a social enterprise hence
the need for government support.
6.2.1.

In particular, we are concerned by statements made in the proposal such as:


support for community TV cannot be a social enterprise in the manner
that Community radio has largely been.12

6.3. SOS is also concerned that the Scheme seems to favour a model for community
television that looks more like provincial state broadcasting service than community
broadcasting as it is commonly understood. It is not clear how this will align with the
existing legislative and policy framework.
6.4. The document is completely silent about how the boards of these channels would be
appointed. However, in an earlier draft

which was presented by DoC to the

Community Television Workshop held in March 2011, it was suggested that the


10
11
12

ibid, pg. 29
Draft Community Broadcasting Support Scheme, pg. 14
ibid

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boards of these community television stations be appointed by the provincial


legislature.
6.4.1.

The fact that the boards are not appointed by the community and that the

scope of operation is provincial and not local means that, in reality, the model put
forward for support by the DoC is a de facto provincial state television service.
6.5. SOS insists that the mandate of community television should remain unchanged. It
must remain:
o

locally (and hyper-locally) oriented and responsive to those local needs;

characterised by community ownership and control;

focussed on ensuring community participation in programming; and

driven by a developmental mandate.

6.6. The purpose of community television is to contribute to the social and economic
upliftment of people and not to be simply a means of delivering entertainment. In
order to do this, strategic partnerships with government are important. However, this
should be with no expectations of broadcasters acting as government mouthpieces.
6.7. Additionally, an over-emphasis on financial sustainability runs the risk of community
broadcasters becoming overly commercialised and not meeting their communityoriented mandate.
6.8. Expecting community broadcasters to make a significant contribution to the massive
unemployment crisis South Africa faces is unrealistic.
6.8.1.

To illustrate, the Sol PIaatjie report indicates that three community television

stations have created 150 jobs:


At this rate18 stations could be expected to create 1000 jobs.13
6.9. In spite of the positive figures forecast in the Waterhouse Coopers 2012-2016 South
African Entertainment and Media Outlook report,14 the DoC is also cautioned against
being overly optimistic about community televisions potential to contribute to
economic growth, and the extent to which it can in fact act as a strategic vehicle - to
unlock the potential of the local content industry and spur economic growth and
create jobs.
6.9.1.

The SPI report also cautions: There is a concern that existing and aspiring

community radio and television owners have over-estimated the sustainability of


revenue streams. Media revenue is unstable at the best of times. DTT will bring

13

Sol Plaatjie Institute for Media Leadership (2012): Investigating the appropriate model for implementing
community TV in South Africa, pg. 29
14
The advertising market in the next five years is set to increase at an 8.6% compound annual rate, rising to an
estimated R41.2 billion in 2016 from R27.2 billion in 2011.Total television advertising is projected to increase at a
7.8% compound annual rate to R14.6 billion in 2016

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many more channels to the market, fragment audiences even more and,
consequently, fragment revenue.15
6.10.

There also appears to be an assumption in the SPI research that significant

resources

will flow

from

provincial and

municipal budgets

to

community

broadcasters:
Our model provides for provincial and local government grants to the MDDA so
that the MDDA can fund each station according to its coverage.16
6.10.1. The DoC should bear in mind that there are significant socio-economic
challenges facing municipalities and provinces, and community broadcasting may
not be seen as a priority in the context of more pressing demands for baseline
public infrastructure roll-out and the delivery of reliable and affordable basic
services.
6.10.2. In addition, one can forsee a scenario where better resourced provinces and
municipalities with a larger economies are better positioned to support community
broadcasters, unlike smaller and poorer provinces and municipalities.
6.10.3. This can only have the effect of further entrenching the pernicious urban/rural
developmental asymmetries that exist in the community media sector.
6.11.

Support for community broadcasters need not only come from the DoC or

MDDA. There are a number of government agencies that can and should play a role
in supporting community television. These include:
o

production (National Film and Video Foundation);

training (MAPPP SETA),

core costs and production (MDDA),

arts, culture and sports programming, infrastructure costs (Lottery),

signal costs (USAASA), and

technical costs and equipment, buildings and infrastructure (Industrial


Development Corporation).

6.12.

Spreading the load across a number of different, existing agencies makes

sense in terms of fiscal discipline (the money is already there), and will ensure some
degree of independence from government, rather than pinning the fortunes of
community television primarily to municipalities and provinces.


15

Sol Plaatjie Institute for Media Leadership (2012): Investigating the appropriate model for implementing
community TV in South Africa, pg.3
16
Sol Plaatjie Institute for Media Leadership (2012): Investigating the appropriate model for implementing
community TV in South Africa, pg. 18

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6.13.

The funding model is based on government subsidies and advertising. A more

creative model must take cognisance of potential income streams such as selling
airtime to government and others (e.g. religious organisations), training and skills
development by stations, and grant makers. (An area for development is for people
to gain skills to obtain money from grant makers.) It is imperative that a mixed and
realistic set of funding models be adopted.
6.13.1. As part of the funding model, it is necessary for industry and government to
increase their advertising spend on community broadcasting; this must be based
on objective and measurable criteria such as (but not limited to) audience figures,
and not adherence to commercial or political interests and agendas.
6.13.2. Community broadcasters must be assured that this Scheme does not
represent an attempt to enable commercial or state capture of community
broadcasters.
6.14.

Surprisingly, despite advocating for a provincial orientation for community

television, when it comes to content, the Scheme prioritises national events. These
are already largely covered by the public and commercial broadcasters. There is an
an apparent disconnect in the Department's intentions for and the actual role of
community broadcasters. Community broadcasters must cover provincial and local
events, as well as be supported to represent the issues and experiences of
marginalised groups such as the unemployed, farmworkers, LGBTQI, sex workers,
etc. in keeping with the developmental role that community broadcasters are required
to play in line policy, statutory, and regulatory instruments.
7. 7. Local Content
7.1. SOS, again, notes with concern that Syndicated programming17 and Special
dispensation18 programming involve a direct role for the DoC in determining content.
This is inappropriate and in violation of the principles of community broadcasting
where community input in programming is important and also means that
programming will not be primarily responsive to local needs but rather imposed from
above.


17

whereby the Community Broadcasting Support Unit will purchase relevant programmes on behalf of stations. A
cap will be placed on syndicated programmes to encourage community grown content. Such programmes will be
of informational and educational nature and excludes religious programmes, sport and entertainment programmes
(drive shows)
18
The Community Broadcasting Support Unit, working based on a particular theme, will work with a selected list of
station to produce programmes. Such programmes will be translated and be made available to other stations.

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7.2. As reported in the Pygma research, community radio stations indicated quality
programming would be greatly enhanced if they able to share programmes between
themselves, rather than just use the infrastructure to passively receive information19.
7.2.1.

This was the original intention for the second phase of the satellite system and

the DoC is encouraged to explore this as a priority. Participants said they needed
more interaction with each other and to participate more actively in developing
strategies for the sector and suggested that the DoC assist in organising annual
workshops to assess the sector and support programmes.
7.2.2.

SOS would recommend that rather than syndicated and special dispensation

funding, funding for local content to community broadcasters should also include
the building of platforms that enable stations to share content and programming
with each other.
7.2.3.

Furthermore, the emphasis placed on syndicated programming clashes with

ICASAs proposed amendments in respect of the Electronics Communication Act


as gazetted on 26 June 2015 which states that Programme syndication/network
and programme sharing shall not exceed 20% of the community sound licenses
programing.20
7.3. The Scheme is silent on community radio hubs. These already exist in several
provinces and are self-initiated and self-conceptualised initiatives to build synergies
and economies of scale (especially in terms of securing advertising), and to share
content.
7.4. The efforts to set-up up a coalition for community television (similar to the National
Community Radio Forum, NCRF) did not yield any positive results. Support for such
an initiative should be prioritised.
7.5. The proposed Scheme also does not talk to discussions currently happening at
ICASA through the Digital Television Content Advisory Group (DTCAG). The DTCAG
have been exploring the possibility of setting up a local content fund to support the
digital migration process as well as the possibility of supporting new media content
across all three tiers of broadcasting.
7.6. The Draft Scheme only seems to make provision that
content

production

subsidies

shall

be

utitilized

exclusively

for

(a)

commissioning and purchasing of programmes and (b) coverage and


19

Pygma Consulting (2011) Impact of the Department of Communications Community Radio Support
Programme, pg. 42
20
ICASA (2014): Draft Amendments: Processes and Procedures Regulations Class Licenses, pg. 6

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production of events of national importance such as national elections, State


of the Nation address.21
7.6.1.

it is not not clear whether this provision is made for community television

broadcasters to apply directly to the proposed Scheme to produce their own


content.
7.6.2.

SOS is unclear whether this is an oversight, poor drafting or that, in fact, no

such provision has been made.


7.7. There has been a debate about the inclusion (or not) of sport in local content
definitions in the Local Content Regulation process.
7.7.1.

Community television broadcasters should be encouraged to cover local and

provincial sport, especially the smaller and marginalised sports codes.


21

Draft Community Broadcasting Support Scheme, pg. 20

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8. Management of the Fund


8.1. SOS is extremely concerned by the decision that the DoC continues to manage the
programme internally and that it sets up a dedicated Community Broadcasting
Support Unit within the department.
8.2. SOS notes that the DoC disregards the Pygma recommendations in this regard:
8.2.1.
i)

Two different approaches are suggested:


strengthening and building capacity within the DoC by setting up a specific
unit or changing the institutional framework; and

ii)

redirecting the funds currently managed by the DoC to institutions


established with specific mandates for funding (e.g. USAASA, NEMISA
and MDDA).

8.2.2.

The latter is recommended as the preferred approach as it would avoid

duplication of administrative structures to manage such grants and is in line with


governments focus on streamlining institutions.22
8.3. This gives the DoC a large role in implementing the strategy, and represents a
duplication (rather than a streamlining) of current efforts by different organisations. It
also makes no practical sense as the MDDA plays the same role and already has all
the systems, processes and capacity (though noting that these need to be
strengthened) in place already.
8.4. SOS questions if the DoC has undertaken any costing to establish what the costs
would be to set up this dedicated Unit, noting that these costs might reduce the
overall funds available to supporting community broadcasters.
8.5. Furthermore, there is no indication of how this will impact on the current role-players,
in terms of budgets & role, particularly the MDDA.
8.6. It is generally better for funding mechanisms for community media to be at arms
length from political authorities. At the very least, the scheme needs to be clear on
the division of labour between the various players.
8.7. The DoC must not set up its own Unit. It must confine its role to policy formulation,
and the other agencies must be empowered to play their mandated roles
8.8. The DoC is also cautioned against falling into the same fight over territoriality that
plagued the establishment of the MDDA.
8.9. The DoC should take greater cognisance of the international benchmarking

22

Pygma Consulting (2011) Impact of the Department of Communications Community Radio Support
Programme, pg. 15

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contained in the Pygma report23 . In all those countries that have funding programmes
(Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and the UK), there are different
mechanisms to administer the grants.
8.9.1.

Australia and Canada have out-sourced the management of the funding

process to non-profit independent funding bodies while the UK and the


Netherlands administer the funding through their broadcasting regulators. France
has established a separate public institution to administer funds raised.
8.9.2.

In all cases, this funding is at arms-length from government. The current

proposal ignores this key feature.


8.10.

There is already too much fracturing of the broadcasting environment in light

of

the

2014

decision

to

establish

the

Ministry

and

Department

of

Telecommunications and Postal Services, against the tide of convergence.


8.11.

The powers and scope of the role of the Minister proposed in the draft

Scheme are unnecessary and open the door for political capture.
8.12.

There is a serious concern about the relationship of power and control that

comes with direct state funding and involvement in the content development process.
8.12.1. In particular, there are concerns about what this Scheme will mean for the
independence of cash-strapped broadcasters who may have dissenting views to
those of the state at national, provincial and / or local level.
8.13.

It must be stated that these concerns exist with commercial funding as well.

9. Funding
9.1. SOS is concerned at the lack of of detail in respect of how the proposed Scheme will
be funded.
9.1.1.

DoC funding is provided for in governments Medium Term Expenditure

Framework (MTEF) so it is not known how more money will be made available.
9.1.2.

There is no evidence that the DoC has established what scope there might be

to leverage on Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) to mobilize international donor


funding.
9.1.3.

The DoC does not seem cognisant of ICASAs proposed new amendments to

the Processes and Procedures Regulations Class licenses24 which prohibit the
commercial/community partnerships envisaged here.


23

Pygma Consulting (2011) Impact of the Department of Communications Community Radio Support
Programme, pg. 11
24
Government Gazette, No. 33297 of 14 June 2014

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10. Critical policy issues that are outstanding


10.1.

A significant gap in the proposed Scheme is a lack of attention to a number of

key policy issues identified by the Pygma research as crucial for supporting and
strengthening community broadcasting. These include:
10.1.1. The class licensing system. The current system results in ICASA issuing
licenses on a first come first serve basis rather than ensuring that licenses are
given to the most deserving, complaint, and representative applicants. There is
currently an indefinite moratorium on both sound and television community
broadcast licensing.
10.1.2. Facilitating targeted audience research. Stations recommended that there
should be specialised and independent market research conducted to establish
community radio audience sizes. This was proposed as an area that the DoC
could fund;
10.1.3. Addressing copyright/SAMRO treatment of community radio.
10.1.4. It must also be noted that since 2011 there have been numerous aborted
policy review processes and as a result this Draft Community Broadcasting
Support Scheme is being developed in a policy vacuum.
10.2.

The DoC is therefore urged to finalise the broadcasting policy review process.

11. 11. Recommendations


SOS makes the following recommendations:
11.1.

The DoC must not set up its own Unit. It must confine its role to policy

formulation, and the other agencies must be empowered to play their mandated
roles.
11.2.

The powers and scope of the role of the Minister are unnecessary and open

the door for political capture and must be brought back within the sole remit of the
policy-making function as outlined in 11.1, above.
11.3.

Community, community of interest and geographical community need to

be clearly defined, and outside of vested commercial, political and other sectarian
interests.
11.4.

Local languages needs defining it must include more than the official

languages of the particular province and/or local municipality where the station
concerned services a geographic community. Definitions need to also consider
marginalised languages within the defined community.

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11.5.

A more creative funding model must be developed and it should take

cognisance of potential income streams such as selling airtime to government and


others (e.g. religious organisations), training and skills development by stations, and
grant makers. It is imperative that a mixed and realistic set of funding models be
adopted.
11.6.

The emphasis on investment, economic stimulation etc. does not fit the

existing framework where community broadcasters (particularly television) are


required to be not-for-profit.
11.7.

The model being proposed appears to be weighted very much in favour of the

provincial broadcasting model. It is not clear how this will align with the existing
legislative and policy framework.
11.8.

The Scheme must distinguish between public and community broadcasting,

each with their specific obligations.


11.9.

Community television must cover provincial and local events and not just

national events (such as the State of the Nation Address). Specific provision also
needs to be made for underserved and marginalised groups.
11.10.

While it is necessary for industry and government to increase their advertising

spend on community broadcasting, community broadcasters must be secured


against state or commercial capture through this or other schemes.
11.11.

The funding application process must be simplified, and capacity must be built

within stations to secure funding. The DoC should provide funds, and the MDDA
should administer disbursements.
11.12.

The DoC needs to provide more detailed financial calculations regarding

projections and costs.


11.13.

Clarity is required on what will happen after the three years of the Scheme

particularly as it is incorrect to assume that community broadcasters will have


become financially sustainable within that time period.
11.14.

The DoC should look at how small commercial enterprises can begin to

operate in the sector as a strategy for promoting sustainability and given the
significant entrepreneurial spirit in the sector.

12. Conclusion(s)
12.1.

Whilst the Draft Community Broadcast Support Scheme has been useful in

stimulating public debate around supporting community broadcasting, SOS strongly

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believes that it currently adopts an unworkable and inappropriate approach to the


issue.
12.2.

Accordingly, SOS calls upon the DoC to reconsider its role in implementing

support directly to community broadcasters and to withdraw the Draft Scheme in its
entirety.
12.3.

Further, SOS calls for a structured, participatory, stakeholder-based approach

to the issue of supporting community broadcasting integrated into the ICT Policy
Review process. It must be harmonised with local and international good practice
and legal and regulatory instruments, taking into account the substantive proposals
set out above and contained in other stakeholder submissions.
12.4.

Should the DoC decide to hold hearings in respect of the Draft Scheme, SOS

requests the opportunity to participate and to present its views.


12.5.

For further information, please contact the SOS Support Public Broadcasting

Coalition via:
Sekoetlane Phamodi
sekoetlane@soscoalition.org.za
+27 11 788-1278
+27 76 084-8077

Kind Regards,

__________________________
Sekoetlane Phamodi
Coordinator: SOS Coalition

---ends---

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