Cape Town: Communications Minister Faith Muthambi says the next five years will be about creating the right conditions for an effective and efficient communications environment in the country.
“Our work for the next five years is guided by the need to lay a strong foundation to create an effective and efficient communications environment in the country.
“Our work will cover specific interventions to be implemented in the areas of improving government communications, broadcasting policy review, content development, community media support, media transformation as well as strengthening the capacity of our entities to deliver on their mandates,” the Minister said on Tuesday.
She was tabling the five-year strategic plan of her departments and five entities to the Portfolio Committee on Communications.
Minister Muthambi is responsible for the Department of Communications (DOC), the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), as well as five entities — Brand SA, Films and Publications Board (FPB), Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA).
These departments and entities are part of the process of moving the country from analogue to digital broadcasting.
Minister Muthambi said the SABC is on sound financial footing.
“The SABC is in a sound financial position and I expect this to be the way things are done. However, the SABC must address issues raised by the Auditor-General fully.
“It has become so urgent that the funding model of the public broadcaster is agreed to and implemented… This matter has been placed high on our agenda and work is currently underway to look at various funding models for the public broadcaster,” the Minister said.
She cautioned that the public broadcaster should not find itself in a position where it is unable to fulfil its public service mandate.
However, she said the next three years look financially stable for the corporation. Net profit is projected to grow from R19 million in 2015/16 to R179 million in the 2017/18 financial year.
Minister Muthambi was concerned that audience share seems to remain at 53% and that new ways must be found by the SABC to grow its audience to beyond this number.
“The corporation had a Request for Proposals (RFP) book of more than R600 million, which makes it the biggest RFP issued by the SABC. The cash equivalent is projected to also grow from R1 billion in 2016/17 to R1.1billion in 2017/18,” she said.
Minister Muthambi commended ICASA for reducing its strategic goals from eight to three, as she said this will enable the entity to focus on its core mandate.
“Of importance to note is the licensing of free-to-air services and additional commercially sound broadcasters in the secondary market. The DOC will ensure that ICASA conducts market studies to support the business case to license more broadcasting services in the country. Local content is one area which has been prioritised.
“The view of the department is that more resources need to be allocated to the monitoring and compliance function of the regulator. This will ensure effectiveness of the regulator in discharging its mandate,” she said.
Minister Muthambi said ICASA should look closer at the need to ensure effective management of the radio frequency spectrum, adding that a business case must be made in this regard.
The Minister said the DOC and its entities must work together to improve the communications portfolio.
“The mandate of the DOC is [to create an] overarching communications policy and strategy, information dissemination … as well as the branding of the country abroad… [It is to] improve communications and marketing to promote an informed citizenry and also assist the country in promoting investment, economic growth and jobs creation,” she said.
The Minister said there is an urgent need to transform the advertising industry to make sure that it contributes to media diversity.
The DOC will continue to engage with various stakeholders, including the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to develop mechanisms to implement the B-BBEEE Codes in the industry, as it is self-regulated.
Communications Acting Director-General Ndivhuho Munzhelele said the challenges that need to be addressed, which inform the department’s strategic plan, include governance of state owned entities, the digital migration project and inadequate communication of government programmes and plans.
SOURCE: South African Official News