The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) will not intervene in copyright laws in favour of the independent TV production sector, according to a position paper it released recently. A key issue for independent producers is that copyright vests with the broadcaster who has commissioned the work, rather than the creators of the programme.
In the paper, ICASA says that while it has noted the problem of full ownership of copyright in broadcasting, this position can be negotiated in individual contracts.
It says the Department of Trade and Industry and the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office should be approached if parties are unhappy with the copyright laws. Independent producers have argued that continued inequality in the bargaining position of the independent producers, compared to that of broadcasters, resulted in unfair terms of trade for commissioning local programmes from the independent production industry. But broadcasters said the problems experienced by the producers were specific to the SABC, and so self-regulation was still appropriate.Broadcasters for self-regulation
The position paper shows that most broadcasters are in favour of self-regulation, or less regulation, while independent producers have argued for more legislation. The Independent Producers' Organisation, the South African Screen Federation and the National Film and Video Foundation have argued that ICASA is mandated to intervene in negotiating terms of trade with broadcasters. Broadcasters - including SABC, M-Net and e.tv - said although ICASA is mandated to make regulations, the group should be careful not to intervene in the commercial activities of broadcasters.
Rehad Desai, chairman of the South African Screen Federation, expressed disappointment with Icasa's position paper. “They have the power to regulate this relationship. They say there needs to be a fair relationship, but how will this happen unless it's regulated?
“We challenge ICASA to use their powers and to move away from self-regulation,” Desai said.
ICASA said in the paper it could not interfere in dispute resolution, unless a broadcaster breached its licence conditions or relevant laws such as the Electronic Communications Act. It said pricing would be left to the discretion of broadcasting service licensees to promote competition.
Since its mandate is to regulate broadcasting in the public interest and to ensure fairness and diversity of opinion, ICASA said it would intervene to ensure public, commercial and community broadcasting services were developed that were responsive to the needs of the public. Published courtesy of