NEWSWATCH: Law-abiding South Africans, hotels and companies with television sets have funded the national broadcaster for years. However, in terms of the draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill, licence fees could be scrapped, reports IOL, though the SABC has been quick to remind everyone that until there are any changes to the law, TV licences are still required, reports Mail & Guardian Online. What's more, the draft bill proposes an extra tax to fund the broadcaster, reports Business Day. However, you can still comment on the proposed bill - but you must do so by 7 December 2009.
The Department of Communications late last week released the draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill for further public comments, following a thorough consultative process after the release of the Discussion Document in July 2009. The bill seeks to repeal the Broadcasting Act no.4 of 1999, so as to align the broadcasting system to the developmental goals of the Republic.
The bill is in response to the Minister of Communications, General (Ret) Siphiwe Nyanda assertion that "A new vision and mandate for public broadcasting services in line with South Africa's developmental agenda is required...” The department will therefore amend the Broadcasting Act, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and rename it the public service broadcasting Act.
The amendment is intended to bring the charter in line with international best practice and ensure that the public broadcaster is best suited to our young democracy. The department will introduce an "appropriate funding model" to ensure that the public broadcaster is not left to the vagaries of the markets.
To this end, the bill seeks to:
- Establish a Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) Fund for public service broadcasting in the Republic;
- Abolish television licence fees;
- Establish International Broadcasting Services (IBS) within the corporation and clarify its role;
- Transfer Channel Africa to IBS;
- Revise the composition of the board of the corporation;
- Introduce a performance management system for the board;
- Outline the mandate of Sentech as a common carrier;
- Clarify the powers of the minister in respect of public service broadcasting;
- Provide charters for the corporation and Community Broadcasting Services;
- In line with the draft local content strategy recently released by the department, the bill further provides for the licensing of specialist channels prioritising: children orogramming, wild-life and documentaries.
The closing date for the written submission is 7 December 2009. Interested parties or individuals are invited to post their comments to Dr Mashilo Boloka, Director Broadcasting Policy, Private Bag X860, Pretoria 0001, or hand deliver to the doc at Block A3 first floor, iParioli Office Park, 399 Duncan Street, Hatfield or email Miyelani @doc.gov.za or fax at +27 (0)12 427 8059. Enquiries relating to the bill can be addressed to Miyelani Khosa or Humbulani Rambau on +27 (0)12 427 8174 and +27 (0)12 421 7046 respectively.
The Draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill is supposedly available on www.doc.gov.za
but is definitely to be found on the Parliamentary Monitoring Group