At last week’s hearings on the controversial Public service Broadcasting Bill, media and broadcasting groups called for further consultation on the basis that the bill was premature. They argued that the Department of Communications needed to consult in more depth on new models for funding the SABC and community media as well as the cost of digital migration, the regulatory environment and the role of the Minister of Communication in dealing with issues that arose.
According to a report by TechCentral and Sapa, Communications Minister Roy Padayachie has withdrawn the Public Service Broadcasting Bill pending further consultation. Public opinion was particularly critical of the proposed amendment to the Income Tax Act to include 1% of personal income tax to be set aside to fund public broadcasting.
“I am convinced much more can yet be gained by engaging in further work before a bill is presented to cabinet,’ Padayachie says. “I have thus decided to withdraw the current draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill.’
According to TechCentral’s online report, he says in redrafting the bill the department of communications must consider the “developmental and democratic goals of the republic’. For these to be best served, “it is imperative that our broadcasting policy is at the cutting edge of our digital age’.
Padayachcie called for a review of legislation and regulations to ensure “policy and legislative alignment and consistency’. And he wants a review of “research done of funding options for the SABC and community radio’ and an “economic modelling exercise’ to “begin to look at SABC and community media costs and projected costs of digital migration in the sector’.
He acknowledged that broadcasting policy requires “wholehearted and energetic mobilisation of state, industry and societal role players’.