South Africa’s SOS: Support Public Broadcasting Coalition reports that Minister of Communications Roy Padayachie is to move ahead with the broadcasting policy review as promised in his address in November last year. The review will focus on immediate problems at beleaguered public broadcaster SABC.
This news follows the meeting between the Minister and SOS held in Pretoria on 2 September.
Said SOS coordinator Kate skinner: “We believe that the review is a crucial process that is long overdue and we fully support the Minister’s process of being thorough, transparent and as broadly consultative as possible. SOS is optimistic that if the process is followed we will have a strategy that will not only develop pubic broadcasting but will also see policy made for our digital future.”
According to Skinner the Minister has promised a comprehensive White Paper process to look at the broadcasting sector as a whole including the public, community and commercial sectors. The review should be completed by 2013. It will analyse the lessons learnt in the post apartheid era and the new digital broadcasting context. The Minister plans to establish a broadcasting panel with international and local expertise to assist.
“We have been asked to put forward SOS’ views on the process including the terms of reference for the panel as well as the particular content areas that should be addressed. The Coalition will be presenting its documents to the Ministry by 9 September 2011.
“The Coalition believes that this process is both urgent and important given the deep seated problems across the broadcasting and communications sectors both at the level of the public broadcaster and in the community media sector. The Coalition notes the importance of focusing on ensuring a sustainable and stable public broadcaster and community media broadcasters in our rapidly changing broadcasting landscape,” said Skinner.
At the meeting on 2 September SOS working group members raised some of the immediate problems with the SABC including issues around cutbacks to programming and the failure over the last three years of the SABC to issue open, transparent calls for new programme proposals ie. RFPS. The independent producers raised the devastating impact this has had on the independent production industry, bringing the industry as a whole to its knees. The Minister has agreed to call an urgent meeting to discuss these, amongst a number of other urgent issues within the next 10 days.