Television licence fees are to be scrapped. That’s the proposal contained in the draft Public Service Broadcasting Bill, which has been published for further public comment. The bill seeks to repeal the Broadcasting Act of 1999.
The department of communications says the bill is in response to communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda’s call for a “new vision and mandate for public broadcasting services in line with SA’s developmental agenda”.
The department will amend the Broadcasting Act, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, and rename it the Public Service Broadcasting Act. “The amendment will bring the charter in line with international best practice and ensure that the public broadcaster is best suited to our young democracy,” the department says in a statement.
The plan, the department says, is to introduce an appropriate funding model to ensure that the public broadcaster is not left to the vagaries of the markets.
Among other things, the bill seeks to:
- Establish a public service broadcasting fund;
- Abolish television license fees;
- Revise the composition of the SABC board;
- 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 SABC and for community broadcasting services
- License specialist channels prioritising children’s programming, wildlife and documentaries
The closing date for the written submission is 7 December 2009. — Staff reporter, TechCentral