Following the ANC’s fourth national policy conference in June, the ruling party has released a recommendations document, the communications section of which has failed to tackle many of the important issues that that were supposed to be on the agenda for discussion.
One eye-catching suggestion the party makes is that “pornographic content should be regulated across all media platforms”. Presumably, this means the ANC wants adult material that is distributed on the Internet and mobile phones regulated in some way. However, the document doesn’t provide any detail about how this might be achieved.
The policy conference was meant to discuss issues such as the management of scarce radio frequency spectrum and how it is allocated in a way that encourages competition in the telecommunications industry. It also proposed finding ways of increasing competition in broadcasting, particularly in pay television. Yet the issue has not been dealt with.
Despite being raised in the discussion paper ahead of the policy conference, the recommendations make no mention spectrum allocation — a crucial element of achieving next-generation broadband services and universal Internet access.
The discussion paper also mooted the idea of government setting aside spectrum for wholesale services and open-access networks, but the recommendations document makes no mention of these.
Instead, the recommendations document talks broadly about the need for universal access to broadcasting, Internet and telephone services; the desire to increase local content quotas in the broadcasting sector; and the need to keep Sentech and the SABC in state hands to meet universal access goals.
The document emphasises the need for computer literacy lessons in primary schools and a greater focus on advanced skills in education thereafter.
It says, too, that there must be a “realignment of government shareholding in the various telecoms entities involved in the sector”, but doesn’t offer any detail in this regard. However, this is no doubt a reference to the ongoing debate about the future of Telkom and state-owned enterprises Sentech and Broadband Infraco.
There is also mention of creating a national cyber security policy by 2014 to “prevent the distribution of harmful and antisocial content”. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media