Tag Archive | TV

More state powers for ICASA proposed

ICASA to get policing role

Parliament has met to consider a proposal to convert the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the regulator of the communications world, into an industry “watchdog”  in order to ensure adherence to government policy. The portfolio committee on communications is currently considering a mandate to bring forward a proposal for ICASA to become an Institution Supporting Democracy (ISD).   In terms of section 181(1) of the Constitution of South Africa there is provision for the establishment of ISDs in order “to strengthen constitutional democracy”. In debate, the committee indicated examples of such institutions as the Office of the Auditor General, the Office of the Public Protector, the Public Service Commission, the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for Gender Equality in this category.

Committee upset

Failure of the CEO of ICASA, former Vodacom executive, Pakamile Pongwana, to arrive for the parliamentary meeting in question considerably upset MPs.     Pongwana,  previously a deputy DG for telecommunications policy in the previous department of communications, was heavily criticized for his absence, with  MPs commenting that he “should know the ropes and be here “.   Chair, Joyce Moloi-Moropa  said in her view “the situation was unacceptable. What could be  more important to a CEO than the future of his institution?”, she asked. In debating the issue, ANC parliamentarians felt that the move would have the effecting of upgrading the role of the institution from one of a communications regulator to an entity that could become a ‘watchdog’ in order to ensure that the communications sector in general adhered to the “principal pillars of South Africa’s democracy.” Opposition members, however,  noted with concern that the proposals could enable “a dispensation where government through ICASA would have increasing control over the entire communications sector ranging from telecoms, radio, to TV and even print media”.

All too powerful

The possible change in the status of ICASA follows the decision of President Zuma upon the commencement of his new government to split the communications  portfolio between the previous broader department of communications and a new telecommunications and postal services department appointed with a separate minister. Stakeholders in the industry have complained in the media that such a move could have serious repercussions for  business and the investment climate, since  general uncertainty would be the result of granting too much power to a state entity at the expense of the private sector, bearing in mind that state utilities controlled many factors in  the industry. Following this  initial parliamentary debate, an amendment to the anchor legislation, the ICASA Act would be the next step, say commentators.   This would involve the normal process of public hearings and deliberations thus providing an opportunity for concerned parties and stakeholders to make input and comment. Other articles in this category http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/communications-bill-sets-up-consumer-body/ http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/parliament-gets-final-dates-digital-tv/

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South Africa DTT process

Parliament gets final dates for digital TV

Digital TV set top box makers get timing...

set top box (indian)

set top box (indian)

Parliament has been told that the new date for a switch over, or “migration”, to digital TV will happen by the middle of 2015 – meaning that there is now extra time provided to start the manufacture of the necessary set-top boxes to enable households to receive the digital signal on analogue TV sets.     New telecommunications and postal services minister, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, was addressing the joint committee on communications, telecommunications and postal services on their joint budget vote.

Encryption argument settled

Minister Cwele told parliamentarians that the problematic area of the digital signal encryption had now been resolved after Parliament had approved the new Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) policy, allowing broadcasters to decide for themselves whether they want to use the encryption process or not.

He commented that the use of set top box (STB) controls for the encryption had caused major disagreements between MultiChoice and e-TV but this had been finally resolved by the previous minister communications, Yunus  Carrim, who suggested that  government subsidised STBs, with poorer households in mind, would only make more use of control mechanisms, hence the new BDM policy.

Cwele said the launch of digital TV in South Africa had overcome many problems and that the final BDM policy, as agreed, would now be officially published by the end of July, thus giving the go-ahead for the process to start and the manufacture of STBs to commence.   A new switch-on date is to be announced within three months, he said.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/set-top-box-system-overhauled/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/communication-bills-tabled-in-parliament/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/overhaul-of-communications-and-broadband-policy-underway/

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Set top box system to be overhauled

Communications dept. to revise controls on set top box system

TVsetsA proposed amendment referring specifically to the use of a control system for set top box supply (STBs) under the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy in terms of the Electronic Communications Act (2005) has been published for public comment.

The amendment, the notice said, followed an extensive review of the system and consultations with stakeholders.

The notice said, “Although control systems will not be mandatory in order to avoid differences between broadcasters and manufacturers, certain STBs will use a control system to protect government’s investment in the local electronics industry and the subsidised STB market.”

“The policy amendment also establishes that costs will be recovered from subscription broadcasters that choose to make use of the STB control system in the future.”

The notice went on, “The amendment states that the switch-on of the digital television signal will take place by 1 April 2014 and the switch-off of the analogue terrestrial signal will be determined at a later date by the Minister of Communications after engaging with cabinet and relevant stakeholders.”

“According to the amendment the national broadcasting digital signal coverage shall cover 84 percent of the population by March 2014 and areas that may be deemed difficult or uneconomical to reach will be covered by a specified satellite system.”

The written comment period has expired and the ministers final decisions on the matter are awaited.

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