The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA / the Authority) has resolved to grant the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and all other television as well as radio services an exemption from complying with the specific programming licence conditions and local content quotas.
Television broadcasting service Licensees are exempted from compliance with the local television content quotas and specific advertising and programming requirements in terms of licence conditions during the National State of Disaster.
However, the exemption, which is valid for a period not exceeding 3 months after termination of the National State of Disaster, does not exempt television and radio services from complying with local music content quotas as provided for in the South African Music Content Regulations of 2016.
In coming to its decision, the Authority considered the following matters:
1. Licensees are enjoined by the Minister’s Directions and the Authority’s ICT COVID-19 Regulations to prioritise specific COVID-19 related and educational programming.
2. Television production houses have also been impacted by the lockdown which means that very little, if any local content has been produced in the last few weeks of the lockdown.
3. The Authority further considered that production houses may need some time to put in place the social distancing and safety requirements as set out in the National Disaster Regulations as published by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
It is for this reason that the Authority took a view that the exemption would give broadcasters the flexibility required to attend to COVID-19 programming requirements as well as time to acquire local content when the lockdown restrictions are lifted.
It is important to note that the exemption does not mean that Licensees and/or the SABC is given permission to broadcast international content only or will not broadcast programming that falls within the specified genres. It also does not mean that broadcasters will not acquire content that is developed from local production houses.
It is of critical importance to further note that the purpose of monitoring compliance of licensees is centred around the public interest principles and in doing so ensures that local cultures and languages are preserved through various means including music.
“This exemption, therefore means that during the compliance monitoring period, broadcasters will not be penalised for not meeting the minimum quotas as specified in the regulations and licence conditions”, concludes ICASA Acting Chairperson, Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng.