Media Development and Diversity Agency Bill: finalisation

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


24 May 2002

Chairperson: Ms C Nkuna (ANC)

Documents Handed out:
Media Development and Diversity Bill [B2B-2002]
Summary of Bill by Information Services [Appendix 1]
MDDA Position Paper Process [available on GCIS website ]

The Committee considered the Media Development and Diversity Agency Bill clause by clause and Members noted problematic areas in the Bill. The Government Communications and Information Service provided clarity on certain provisions, including issues such as equitable representation, diversity and conflict of interest. The Committee voted to pass the Bill.

The Chair referred to the summary of the MDDA Bill and invited Members to note their concerns with particular clauses.

Mr Trew (GCIS) told Members that the purpose of Clause 11 was to cover certain eventualities, which may arise and were not intended. Although Clause 11 did not place an onus on members of the board to disclose conflict of interest, it rather reflected on the seriousness thereof. In cases of conflict of interest, members are required by law to disclose such interest and recuse themselves. A member's failure to disclose is subject to a penalty of R250 000. According to Mr Trew, this fine signals the seriousness with
which conflict of interest is viewed. Failure to pay the prescribed fine may result in imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years.

Ms Botha (DP) asked if members are compelled to resign if found guilty of wrongdoing.

Mr Tony Trew replied that Clause 6 of the Bill deals specifically with this and sets out the procedure for removal from office.

Ms Botha wanted clarity on the issue of "equitable representation".

Ms Nthongane (ANC) responded that such phraseology is meant to guide the board in ensuring representation within the media industry for previously disadvantaged people. The Chairperson wanted to know what is meant by "parliament" within the provisions of the Bill.

Mr Trew replied that reference to Parliament also refers to the National Assembly. Diversity
should also guide the board members in their endeavours to achieve the aims of the Bill, he added.

Ms Botha expressed concern over Clauses 3 and 18 and the Chair noted her concern.

Dr Nel (NNP) also raised concern over Clause 17(a) and said that the DP had similar concerns.

There was consensus in the Committee over the Schedule to the Bill. The Chair noted that concerns
that surfaced were not strong enough to warrant a delay in the approval of amendments to the Bill by the committee.

The motion of desirability was read by the Chair. The Bill was accepted by the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1
22 May 2002


The aim of the brief is to provide a summary of the Media Development and Diversity Agency Bill (MDDA).
Clause by Clause Summary
Clause 1 of the Bill deals with definitions. Important definitions to be mindful of is that of "community", "community media", "media", "diversity" and "media development". The Bill defines the above-mentioned as follows:
· "community" means a geographically founded community and any group of persons or sector of the public having a specific, ascertainable common interest, including groups specified in section 17'
· "community media" means media enterprises that are owned and controlled by a marginalized community where any financial surplus generated is reinvested in the community or the media enterprise;
· 'diversity" with regard to media, means access to the widest range of sources of information and opinion, as well as equitable representation within the media in general;
· "media development" means the development of the media environment and infrastructure so that marginalized communities and persons have access to the media as owners, managers, producers and consumers of media;
· 'media" means all forms of mass communication, including printed publications, radio, television and new electronic platforms for delivering content.

Clause 2 of the Bill establishes a Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA). In terms of
Clause 3, which stipulates the objective of the Agency, the Agency will have a clear mandate to promote development and diversity in the South African media industry. In addition, the Bill seeks to redress historical imbalances by affording previously disadvantaged communities the opportunity to participate in the media industry.

In terms of Clause 4, a MDDA Board is established with the mandate to govern the activities of the Agency. The aim of the board, as outlined in Clauses 5 to 10, is to promote media development and diversity. The Board has to give effect to this mandate by inter alia promoting the media needs of the poor, people living in rural areas, women, youth and children, illiterate people and people with disabilities. It is also expected to engage in research regarding media development and diversity. The composition of the Board, as stipulated in Clause 4(3) is designed to reflect broader representation across sectors of the Republic. The Board will consist of at least 7 but not more than 9 members. Representatives must be suitably qualified which means that they must possess expertise and experience in fields like law, social development and financial management.

Clause 5 and 6 of the Bill, further provide for the procedure to be followed in terms of nomination, appointment and disqualification of members of the Board. The Bill, in terms of clause 7, stipulates the office duration for members of the Board. It provides that a member cannot hold office for more than two consecutive terms. In terms of Clause 8 of the Bill, the remuneration of members must be determined by the Minister of Communications in consultation with the Minister of Finance. Clause 9 of the Bill deals with meetings of the Board. It provides that the Minister must convene the first meeting of the Board and that the chairperson will convene subsequent meetings. Clause 10 of the Bill outlines the procedure to be followed by members of the Board when they are faced with conflicting interests. In terms of this provision, members of the Board are prohibited from partaking in the business of the Board when there is a conflict of interest. This clause in the Bill seeks to promote the principles of fairness, accountability and impartiality amongst members when conducting the business of the Board.

Clause 11 provides for the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The CEO is required to be knowledgeable in fields such as law, social development, and must in addition have experience in accounting and financial matters. The duties of the CEO as well as the general duties of the Board are elaborated upon in Clauses 12 and 13 of the Bill.

In accordance with Clause 14, the Agency will receive funds from various sources such as Parliament, direct investment and foreign donors. It is also allowed to enter into financial and non-financial agreements to further the aims of the legislation. In addition;Clause 15 stipulates the nature of support that the Agency will provide to disadvantaged communities. It provides that the nature of the support will be in the form of direct subsidies and cash grants to conduct media research, support capacity development and training. The Bill also supports equitable distribution of resources to the designated groups to promote media development and diversity. In terms of Clause 16 of the Bill, resources will be utilized for community media projects, small commercial media projects and research projects.

Clause 17 of the Bill indicates that projects benefiting specified groups will be prioritized. In terms of clause 18 of the Bill, projects identified by the Board should be aimed at achieving the objective of the Agency. The Bill further in Clause 19 places an obligation on the Board to evaluate projects to ensure that such projects are achieving its goals.

In terms of Clause 20, the Board may enter into agreements in order to further the objectives of the Act.
Clause 21 specifies that the Minister may make regulations regarding any matter that is required in terms of the Act.
The readers' attention is brought to the fact that previous papers1 provided on this Bill were for purposes of providing background information and insight into the rationale behind the draft legislation.
Summary: Position Paper on the MDDA, 21 May 2002.
Summary: Submissions: Public Hearings on MDDA, 17 May 2002.
Draft Legislation:
Media Development and Diversity Agency Bill [B2-2002]


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