Judgment in Jo’burg

S. Africa producers, b'casters condemn local-content law

JOHANNESBURG — Regulations increasing the local content in South African TV programming have been adopted, and initial reaction, from broadcasters and producers, is dissatisfaction.

Under the regulations issued Friday, the South African Broadcasting Corp., the country’s pubcaster, will be required to dedicate 50% of air time to locally made programs on all three of its channels.

Pay TV station M-Net will have to give over 5% in encoded time and 20% in open time to local programming.

A new commercial free-to-air channel, due to come on stream later this year, will be slapped with a 20% local content demand.

The new regulations will be phased in over two years.

Carl Fischer, one of the country’s most successful independent producers, said the measures “will significantly improve the environment for the growth and stability of the local production industry.”

More importantly, he said, they will “secure a varied diet of ‘own’ programs for South African audiences.”

While neither the SABC nor M-Net have commented officially, both are known to be dissatisfied with the regulations, which were drafted by the Independent Broadcasting Authority. The broadcasters have complained that the measures smack of protectionism, interference and subversion of the market forces.

Producers, on the other hand, complain that they don’t go far enough, especially where M-Net is concerned.

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