Advisory council to help expedite digital migration

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Department of Communications is in the process of setting up a panel of experts with the technical know-how to help expedite South Africa’s migration to digital broadcasting.

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said this when she tabled the department’s budget vote in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon.

The digital migration project, which the department is tasked with, holds many benefits such as improved picture and sound quality, an enriched user experience and more channels to choose from.

It has, however, experienced challenges. More than 10 years since Cabinet approved the policy, the country is yet to migrate its analogue broadcasting system to digital.

“This has become costly for the government and the industry. Engagements with all the relevant stakeholders are ongoing and I commit to share our plans in due course. 

“Such plans will include the process of setting up an advisory council to bring in the technical know-how and insight in this area...”

The Minister said the department would also look into potential Public-Private Partnerships to support the expedited migration to digital through cost-effective and efficient means.

The department will engage in a process of resource mobilisation and the identification of alternative means that may support government’s intentions to expedite the migration to digital.

“We believe strongly that a collaborative approach will be the catalyst required to ensure the success of digital migration,” she said.

Restoring the integrity of SABC

Minister Mokonyane said while the SABC is on a course of gradual recovery following the appointment of a new board, a lot of work still needs to be done.

The department will work with the board to speed up the appointment of key personnel to ensure leadership certainty and improve accountability and internal controls.

“In respect of the SABC in particular, we are determined to restore the SABC to financial stability, editorial credibility and to being a public broadcaster of integrity that supports our objectives of social cohesion and nation building.

“We want to really engage in intense conversation with South Africans on building the SABC to reflect the above objectives,” she said.

A decision on new broadcast licences

Minister Mokonyane said in March 2017 the department published a Discussion Document on the regulatory framework for community broadcasting services.

In the coming financial year, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) will develop regulations regarding community broadcasting services that will strengthen the community broadcasting regulatory framework.

“ICASA will in this financial year also announce its decision on the licensing process of commercial free to air television broadcasting service and Multiplex 3 spectrum licenses.

“The introduction of more players in the industry is aimed at increasing competition in the broadcasting sector and promoting diversity,” the Minister said.  –