The SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition has welcomed the Minister of Communications, Mr Roy Padayachie’s commitment to the broadcasting policy review announced in his Budget Vote speech made in Parliament yesterday. SOS believes that this is an important first step in stabilising the SABC and building the long term sustainability of both the public and community media sectors.
The Minister announced that, “the process to review the current broadcasting policy landscape will commence with great urgency’. He stated that the process would be launched in the next three weeks and that the Department would use the opportunity to “investigate an appropriate funding model for the SABC to ensure that the provision of public service remains the SABC’s main priority’. Further, he announced that to fast track the process, and to broaden public participation in the effort, he would constitute a panel of experts to assist with the review. He stated that the panel would advise on:
“Various policy issues, including embracing convergence and new media services, the creation of an enabling licensing and regulatory environment, the growth and development of local content industries, and the role of the three tier broadcasting system – public, commercial and community broadcasting.’
Since its inception in 2008 the Coalition has been fighting for this policy review process. The Coalition thus warmly welcomes the Minister’s announcement. The Coalition believes strongly that the present Broadcasting White Paper, 1998 and Broadcasting Act, 1999, need to be reviewed in terms of the gaps and contradictions that have come to light as regards their implementation. Further, policy and legislation has no option but to be shaped by the demands of the new digital, multi-channel environment.
The Coalition has drafted, over a number of years, a new vision for public and community broadcasting. As a starting point we would be happy to contribute this vision document to the process. Further, we would like to share our views on the implementation of the review process. For instance, one of the issues we believe strongly in is that the members of the review panel need to be fully versed on a wide range of broadcasting perspectives, including those of unions, civil society and creative content producers. We also believe that the review process requires significant meaningful public participation.
The Coalition will be calling for a meeting with the Minister and his Department to put forward our various positions on the policy review process and its implementation.
The SOS Coalition represents a number of trade unions including COSATU, COSATU affiliates CWU and CWUSA, FEDUSA, BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); and a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI), Media Monitoring Africa (MMA), and the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA-SA); as well as a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.