SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa have welcomed the Minister of Communications, Roy Padayachie’s announcement over the weekend that the Public Service Broadcasting Bill will be withdrawn.
The Minister has undertaken to review the White Paper on Broadcasting, 1998 and to take into consideration the development of digital migration.
SOS calls upon him to do so “particularly as regards the Bill’s proposed funding models for public and community media’. According to the SOS statement “a detailed economic modelling exercise should be conducted to ascertain the actual costs of delivering quality, citizen-orientated programming in the public and community media sectors. These costs need to be considered in the light of the new, digital multi-channel environment.’
The Minister’s announcement on the withdrawal of the PSB Bill does not mention a review of the Minister’s role within the broadcasting environment. SOS raises this issue with a specific request that the governance proposals in the Bill “ensure that there are clear lines of accountability and that the Minister is not given undue powers to intervene in terms of management issues at the SABC and in the community media sector’
SOS also raises the importance of incorporating the principles of the Constitution and its commitment to socio-economic rights.
The Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) statement says the withdrawal of the Bill is a leap in the right direction, but highlights the fundamental importance of a proper policy review process.
The Minister’s stated intentions to review existing research on the funding options of the SABC and community media as well as a review of the 1998 White Paper is commended by the MMA.
“These undertakings will certainly be a leap in the right direction of re-moulding the dire financial and governance state of the SABC into a fully fledged “public service’ broadcaster that will deliver cutting edge local content, news and current affairs for all South African citizens.’
However MMA warns that the policy review process must adopt “a corrective action approach’ in order to establish long term stability at the SABC and as “a means of restoring credibility, trust and a sense of public ownership of the SABC and the delivery of a crucial public service by the broadcasting sector as a whole’.