So. African Green Paper sets b’cast policy

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The government released a discussion document last week that will fundamentally transform the country’s broadcasting industry.

The Green Paper on Broadcasting Policy was launched by Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting Minister Jay Naidoo in Johannesburg.

“This is the most comprehensive framework on broadcasting policy ever in South Africa,” Naidoo said. “It will set the framework for a major revolution to take place in the broadcasting industry.”

The Green Paper — draft legislation in embryonic form — sets a guideline for organizing and regulating the broadcasting industry, but invites public input that will be incorporated before the law is finalized.

The document, drawn up in consultation with key industry players, proposes several models and ways to deal with regulation, the public mandate of the SABC and development and financing of the broadcasting industry.

Among the most important issues are the SABC’s public mandate and how the editorial independence of the pubcaster can be safeguarded.

Naidoo said measures besides income from advertising needed to be found to finance the SABC. These could include increased private investment, increased advertising revenue, increased subscription fees for pay television, increased income from license fees and grants.

SABC chief executive Zwelakhe Sisulu welcomed the Green Paper as “a very important element of the democratization of broadcasting in South Africa.”

Public comment on the document has been invited until Jan. 31. A White Paper — formal draft legislation — will be published after that.

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