SOS and SASFED propose changes to ICASA local content regulations


In mid-2014, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA)
announced that it would review its local content regulations for the country’s
broadcasters. This is to correct problems that people had raised in the past
regarding the regulations and to bring them up to date with the increased capacities
and possibilities that digital migration and over-the-top (OTT) or internet protocol
(IP) content delivery are set to offer to content creators and broadcasters.

The door was opened to the industry to make submissions to ICASA for proposed
amendments to the regulations. In September, the South African Screen Federation
(SASFED) and the Save our SABC (SOS) Coalition, co-hosted a series of open
discussions, inviting as many industry participants as possible, to draw up a list of
suggestions for the revised regulations.

In time for the 10 October submission deadline, SOS presented a comprehensive
document to ICASA containing a list of possible changes. Drawn from SASFED and
SOS’s consultations with industry professionals, the document proposes changes
designed to set ICASA’s regulations comfortably in the digital age, further promote
the production of local content and address long-standing problems such as the
representation of marginalised languages, the positioning of community
broadcasting and other issues.

Among the fundamental issues raised in the document is the redefinition of certain
key terms. For example, since multi-platform content dissemination is becoming the
norm, SOS suggests that TV content now be redefined as “audiovisual content’ so as
to cover all bases. By the same token “radio content’ now becomes “audio content’.

The document’s recommendations for television include:

• For subscription broadcasters, an increase in local content’s portion of content
acquisition budget, from 10 to at least 20%
• Commercial free-to-air broadcaster is currently required to commit 45% of
its acquisition budget to local content, while other free-to-air broadcasters need
only use 35% for that purpose. SOS suggests that all free-to-air channels face equal
quotas and that monitoring of these platforms should be more stringent. SOS
proposes that 60% of budget and time allocation be set aside for local content for
all FTA broadcasters and that 35% should be in African languages.
• The regulations faced by community broadcasters should not be as onerous as
those faced by commercial broadcasters.
• Public broadcasters should have their local content quotas upped from 55% to
70% and 40% of the local content they broadcast should be outsourced to
independent producers.
• The repeats measurement system needs to be revised. Each local programme
should be issued a unique reference number, which should then be logged on the
ICASA database each time that programme is broadcast. One repeat of a
programme will counted as 100% of the duration of that programme. All data
logged in ICASA’s database against the unique reference numbers must be made
available to all collection agents, acting as an objective source from which repeat
fees and other monies may be calculated, to obviate disputes between collection
agents and broadcasters. Broadcasters must be legally bound to pay such fees as
the data indicates as necessary.

The list of suggestions was submitted to ICASA on 10 October, along with all other
submissions from industry role players. It is uncertain when the final revised
regulations will be published.


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