Source: The Department of Communications
Title: SA: Padayachie: Address by the Minister of Communications, at a New Age breakfast discussion, Johannesburg
The Management and the editorial staff of The New Age
Officials from the Department of Communications and other state institutions
Industry and civil society participants
Members of the media
Distinguished ladies and gentleman
It is indeed with great gratitude for me to take this opportunity to address this august function which has been ably co-ordinated by The New Age newspaper. We took a decision to convene this breakfast get together as a way to create an opportunity for industry and other stakeholders to engage with government.
This engagement forms part of other meetings we have had with the top 30 ICT companies, SMMEs, labour organisations and most recently the Save Our SABC coalition of civil society organisations.
In all these discussions, we received inputs on a range of issues that require attention in our endeavour to create a stable and predictable policy and regulatory environment. We have also taken into consideration offers made by industry and other stakeholders to work with government to create sustainable jobs through industrialisation and infrastructure development. In particular, we are committed to create the necessary environment to ensure that we meet our commitment to create one million jobs in the ICT sector by 2020. As you will realise, the job creation targets we have set for ourselves even surpass those set out in the National Growth Plan, and therefore will require more than a call of duty to address this national imperative.
We envisage that jobs will be created across the entire value chain, especially in the flagship projects of the Department of Communications which include:
Digital Broadcasting Migration
Job creation and rural development as cross cutting domains
For the purposes of this meeting, we have decided to focus on digital broadcasting migration and the broadcasting policy review. We intend to provide feedback on the status of these important initiatives. Although this discussion is largely about broadcasting, the outcome will also unleash a watershed impact on the ICT sector as a whole.
Part of the digital dividend which will result from the broadcasting migration will be set aside for mobile communications services in line with the decisions of the World Radio Conference. The Department is engaging with ICASA on a suitable approach to the licensing of the digital dividend and other high demand bands.
BROADCASTING DIGITAL MIGRATION
In May 2011, the Department of Communications held a DTT workshop which developed an Integrated DTT rollout plan to ensure effective coordination of stakeholder activities for successful digital migration within the agreed timelines.
The DTT project plan is broken into a number of subprojects, each with a number of activities to be performed.
The Digital Broadcasting Policy Review
The Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy amendments were gazetted for public comment on the 19th August 2011. The finalisation of the amendments will inform the amendment of the existing regulations. ICASA intends to publish amended DTT regulations by the end ofSeptember 2011.
Project Management Office
An institutional mechanism for a dedicated DTT Project Office has been developed and approved for implementation. A DTT Project Governance Board, chaired by the Minister has been established to oversee the work of the Project Office. The process to capacitate the Project Office is expected to be finalised before the end of the calendar year.
The Joint Spectrum Advisory Group (JSAG) which will advise the Authority on the most efficient process to be adopted in resolving matters related to spectrum management, to minimise and or prevent harmful interference during digital terrestrial migration has been established.
The Authority has also started to engage with affected broadcasters and signal distributors to second officials to the advisory group. We are positive that the advisory group will be functional by September 2011.
The network coverage needed for the launch is 70% and Sentech has committed that by April 2012 it will reach the 74% network coverage. As indicated in our Budget Vote, we are still confident to achieve close to 100% population coverage by the end of the migration process at the end of 2013.
The SABC has developed Channel line-ups (including health and educations channels) and the business plans setting out three funding scenarios were submitted to DoC for MTEF Opex for funding. Full revised DTT business plan incorporating new channel line-ups is close to completion.
The licensed free-to-air broadcasters,SABC and E-TV, have developed a structure and objectives document for the management of a STB control mechanism to prevent signal piracy and to protect subsidised boxes from living the country. In our approach, we will ensure that the preferred technical mechanism also supports the growth of the manufacturing sector.
The approach entails establishing a section 21 company or joint venture at which the SABC, E-TV and future free-to-air broadcasters will operate and enjoy the same rights, benefits and responsibilities.
The broadcasters have also registered Multiview as the brand name for the free to air bouquet.
Regarding the marketing rollout, the Tactical Plan for the Digital Migration Public Awareness and social marketing strategy has been developed. We plan to commence the marketing campaign before the 2011 festive season.
Scheme for Ownership Support
The Scheme for Ownership support has been developed and is in the process of being submitted to Cabinet for approval by October 2011.
USAASA has developed the means test and the qualifying criteria. This includes the level of the subsidy and once finalised it will have to be gazetted by the Minister. As part of the management of the subsidy, engagements have started with retailers and the South African Post Office.
Set Top Box Manufacturing Strategy
The STB Manufacturing Strategy has been developed and is ready for submission to Cabinet. The TC74 working group within the SABC Bureau of Standards (SABS) has had several meetings to amend the standard. We envisage that SABS will publish the draft standard for public comment in the near future. This is an important step towards the launch ofpublic DTT services in April 2012.
Digital Dividend Review
As indicated above, one of the cornerstones of the digital migration is the release the digital dividend for the benefit of the ICT industry as a whole. In this regard, a draft Policy Direction on the Digital Dividend Review has been submitted to ICASA for initial input as required by the law. In particular, this process will prioritise the release of the spectrum that will be re-allocated from broadcasting to mobile communications services. Given the strategic nature of this spectrum, we will ensure that it is directed towards the attainment of the goals of universal service and access for all.
I am fully aware that the electronic communications industry is waiting for policy and regulatory clarity on this matter as it also has implications for the licensing of the 2.6Ghz and 3.5Ghz bands.
THE BROADCASTING POLICY REVIEW
Towards the end of 2010/11 financial year, I withdrew the draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill and requested that a process be instituted to ensure that further work, including the following tasks, is completed:
A review of the White Paper on Broadcasting, 1998 including an environmental scan of the broadcasting legislation and regulations in place to ensure policy and legislative alignment and consistency, and
A review of research done on funding options for the SABC and community media.
These tasks have to be completed as speedily as possible and in a manner that enhances the technical rigour, credibility and sustainability of South Africa’s broadcasting policy environment.
preliminary financial modelling to determine the funding needs of the public and community broadcasting services is completed and a draft report has been produced.
A due diligence on the White Paper on Broadcasting (1998) has commenced and a report will be produced soon.
A process is currently underway to appoint a service provider to undertake a comprehensive market study to inform the content of the policy. The market study will look at the following issues that are critical to the policy:
Market typology and trends
The role, performance and sustainability of the 3 tiers of broadcasting system (public, community and commercial)
Broadcasting and National Developmental particularly on matters relating to access to broadcasting services by the public, particularly in the rural areas, treatment and access to content of national interest
Future scenarios and Digital broadcasting migration or Digital Terrestrial Television implications
The above matters will be looked at against international trends so that the new policy is benchmarked with some leading countries with socio-economic profiles similar to South Africa.
The Broadcasting Policy review is set to follow the following process:
Ministerial Task team appointed to work with the Department
Due diligence on the White Paper on Broadcasting
Comprehensive Report Completed with recommendations
Draft Broadcasting Policy approved by Cabinet for public consultation
Draft Broadcasting Policy Gazetted for public comments
Draft Broadcasting Policy revised
Final Broadcasting Policy Approved by Cabinet
Legislative processes commence
Notably, the process will be a consultative, participatory, transparent and collectively driven jointly with industry to ensure that:
We tap into the industry’s knowledge and expertise,
The outcome of this process reflects the views and interests of the public and industry alike.
In the next two weeks, I will announce a panel of experts to assist with the review. To the extent possible, I will ensure that the panel brings a cross section of stakeholders to encourage robust debates.
In conclusion, I wish to invite all stakeholders to continue to engage with the Department of Communications on any matter of common or mutual interest. Time is not always on our side, therefore we need to come with ideas that can be translated into implementable actionplans.
Once more, let me take this opportunity to thank The New Age for making it possible for us to gather here today. As wemove forward, we will continue to create more opportunities to engage on various topical issues in the industry.
I THANK YOU