Communications department 2016/17 budget vote


Building on their achievements and addressing their challenges the communications minister Faith Muthambi presented the Budget Vote on 6 May 2016:

As I present this Budget Vote today, I will also take this opportunity to reflect on the commitments I made in the 2015/16 Budget Vote.

Last year we indicated that the new Department of Communications would become operational from 1 April 2015. It is therefore with a great sense of pride that I stand before you today to report that the department is hard at work and has successfully completed its first year of operation.

Last year when I stood before this house, we reported that Cabinet had approved the final amendments to the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy.

I am delighted to inform this house that since then, we have made significant progress in implementing the approved policy. Amongst others, we have been able to achieve the following critical milestones:

Finalisation of the Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) (SANS 862) and Direct-to-Home (DTH) (SANS 1719) standards in April 2015 and Integrated Digital TV (IDTV) (SANS 10352) standard in September 2015.
Between May and June 2015, we undertook a series of bilateral engagements with Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho to ensure the harmonisation of the radio frequency spectrum in order to develop plans to reduce any potential broadcast signal interference. During these visits, I signed Joint Communique, Joint Statements and Memorandum of Co-operations with my neighbouring counterparts. I can report in confidence to this house that to date no interference has been reported.
In July 2015, we launched the commencement of public awareness campaigns to educate the citizens about the need to migrate and the benefits of the broadcasting digital migration programme. The launch was followed by a series of Digital Migration Izimbizo campaigns that I led across the country.
In August 2015, a conformance regime to ensure that the set-top-boxes (STBs) and related accessories are produced in South Africa was finalised. It is currently being used to test whether the STBs comply with the approved South African DTT standards.
In August 2015, a panel of 26 manufacturers was established to produce STBs and related accessories such as antennae’s and satellite dishes.
The implementation of the long-awaited Digital Migration has started in the Northern Cape! The SKA bound community, Keimos, has become the first beneficiary of the DTH and DTT Set-Top-Boxes. I would like to thank the Mayor of Keimoes, Councillor Olyn and ward Councillor Mr Afrikaner, who are present here for their invaluable support in ensuring that this project is launched successfully. These are the true ambassadors of the DTT in their communities.
We will continue to work with the Department of Science and Technology to ensure that we complete the Northern Cape SKA area on or before the June 2016 deadline.
The registration process made it possible for us to launch the distribution and installation of the government-subsidised STBs and related accessories on 17 December 2015 in Keimoes, under the theme “Zwi khou itea’ (It is happening) in South Africa.

We have also announced 1 February 2016 as the commencement of the Dual-Illumination performance period.

To make Digital Migration a success, we will work with the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and the National Treasury to come up with a mechanism on how Sentech can be assisted in maintaining two networks system (dual illumination) costs.

We will announce the analogue signal switch-off date when more than 80 per cent of the TV households have been migrated to digital TV.

We wish to reiterate that the success of the DTT project across the globe is heavily dependent on the implementation of a focused and properly funded education and awareness campaign. It is with great concern to note that the DTT Public Awareness campaign and related activities, such as the Call Centre are not funded for the 2016/17 financial year. However, there are temporary mechanisms in place to address the funding shortfall in the interim.

Lastly, I have acted decisively on the allegations regarding the inappropriate procurement of STBs and related accessories. We have received a final forensic report on the Supply Chain Management process from the National Treasury and once we have studied the findings and recommendations thereof, we will inform the public on the necessary actions to be taken.

Together with the GCIS, the department has implemented transformation interventions to overhaul the broader communications industry. Today, 6 May 2016, the DTI will republish the Marketing, Advertising and Communication (MAC Charter) Sector Code concluding 15 years of negotiations. This paves the way for the implementation of the MAC Sector Council, which will monitor the ambitious transformation targets necessary to ensure more participation by women and youth.

To give effect to these targets, we have also entered into a memorandum of understanding with the State Owned Entity Communicators Association representing the marketing divisions of government entities. We will begin evaluating all marketing, advertising and communications companies providing services to government and its entities and will remove non-complying companies from our service provider database.

Marketing and advertising communication reaches over 50 million South Africans every day. For such a small industry, its power to influence South Africans is disproportionate to its size, hence the need to make it a truly South African industry is imperative.

The department’s total budget for the 2016/17 financial year amounts to R1 344 685 billion, of which R899 million are transfers to the entities.

The department’s operational budget amounts to R75, 2 million. Out of this amount, R59, 2 million and R15, 9 million is allocated to the compensation of employees, and goods and services respectively. A total amount of R84 000 (eighty four thousand) is allocated for payment of capital assets.

As indicated to the Portfolio Committee, this skewed allocation is a clear indication that the department is not adequately funded to fully discharge its mandate as pronounced by president Jacob Zuma in May 2014.

We will, however, continue to make the best out of the available budget as we discharge our critical mandate.

ICASA, will in the second quarter of this financial year, begin with the review of the new call termination rates. In line with the MoU signed, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services will make further pronouncements in his Budget Vote.

With this budget ICASA will also focus on the implementation of local content regulations in this financial year.

The Film and Publications Board will over the medium term focus on informing and educating society to empower adults and protect children against harmful content; implementing compliance, and monitoring and evaluation; developing leading edge technology to perform online content regulation, and to classify content for films, games and adult publications; and conducting research on the impact of content on the public. In this regard the FPB has been allocated R86, 4 million.

The Ministry is pleased to announce to this house that the SABC has moved swiftly to meet and engage the local television content producers on 4 May 2016. I am told that this session was full to capacity.

This initiative will result in the appointment of commissioning editors in all nine provinces where shooting and packaging of the content will be done in the respective provinces. This a radical shift from how the SABC used to commission content wherein the shooting and packaging used to happen in main cities.

In addition, as announced by the president we will work with the Department of Trade and Industry which has established a Black Emerging Filmmakers Fund which aims to assist in bridging the inequality gap for filmmakers in South Africa.

This initiative by the SABC will go a long way towards preservation of culture, tradition and heritage as presented by the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in this house on Tuesday, 3 May 2016.

We are also pleased to announce that during the second quarter of this financial year the SABC will cease to flight international content repeats and this will be replaced by the South African content, where South Africans will be telling their own stories in their own languages.

Whilst we welcome the good work by the SABC team we also bemoan the continued inadequate funding of the Corporation. In this regard work is underway to develop different funding model options for the SABC. We are evaluating the available funding models including direct government funding, advertising, and the television license fee as possible sources of increased funding for the SABC.

The SABC is allocated R182, 2million to fund the operations of the Channel Africa, capital infrastructure programme, community radio station and programme production.

For the full budget vote speech visit the SA government website.

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Cera-Jane Catton is a writer and journalist with years of experience in community newspapers, blogging and freelance journalism. She has worked in a cache of capacities, often finding herself behind or in front of the cameras, intentionally and less so. She has been a stunt double in two Bollywood movies, has worked in various capacities on a number of natural history documentaries, and other international productions shot in South Africa. Cera is a former Screen Africa journalist.


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