Department of Communications & GCIS on their Strategic and Annual Performance Plans; State of readiness for digital migration

NCOP Public Enterprises and Communication

22 April 2015
Chairperson: Ms E Prins (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister for Communications noted that from May 2015, the Department will be embarking on a Provincial consultation on the Community Broadcasting Support Strategy. The idea behind the project was to engage with community and district municipalities on how best to support community broadcasters. The Minister said it was the policy of the governing party that there must be a radio station per district municipalities and at least one community television per Province. She reminded Members that the Department had been engaging Provincial Premiers on the issue of community broadcasters. She emphasized that the intention was based on the instruction from Parliament that all stakeholders will collectively work together to address and unblock all problems in the station in the Provinces. These had assisted the Department a lot in streamlining its signals distributing support and stations equivalent roll out plan.

The DoC was continuing this approach and will ensure that Members constituencies got the best public service from the Department and any problems or challenges get quickly and swiftly resolved. The Minister confirmed that the digital migration policy and the broad band connect policy are now in place. With these comes a need for redevelopment of the digital content strategy. The Minister noted that there were actually two or three Provinces namely, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and Western Cape that has content production capacity and were actively involved in producing content. With regards to the xenophobic and Afrophobic attacks the country was experiencing, the Minister said the Department will be working together with the MDDA, SABC and ICASA on programmes production. Here the Department will be training stations especially young journalists on producing content that will be dealing directly with issues of immigration, job creation, crime and unemployment amongst others. SABC will be the Departments major partner because of the capacity SABC has in terms of writers and production facilities.   The Minister hinted that from the first quarter of this year, the Department will be focusing on training community broadcasters on how to report and cover the local government election. SABC experiences in covering Provincial and National elections will come in handy in this regard for the underfunded and understaffed community broadcasters.

The GCIS Provincial and Liaison support system is ready to deliver communication services to our people in all corners of SA. Information is the most important means to empower the marginalized people many of whom reside in our rural areas. The GCIS has therefore prioritized its leadership of inter-departmental communications through joint planning and sharing of messages across the three tiers of government to ensure the coherence of messages. The Departments service centers are an important access point for government services in many of the communities. These offices provide access to home affairs services such as application for ID documents, Departments of Social Developments, registration for social grants, and information resources for small business opportunities through the DTI. 

The Chairperson expressed delight at the Minsters presentation and the work of the Ministry especially the giant strides she has been doing. She was happy about the Imbizos and the information about xenophobia. It was an opportunity to educate South African on how to treat foreigners. There is the need to do that. She wondered whether South Africa understands what contributions other Africans are bringing into the country.  

The presentation by the DoC focused on the strategic plan and the APP. Key highlights of the presentation were Developing an overarching communications and broadcasting policy and strategy; Providing information, dissemination and publicity to promote an informed  citizenry; and Brand South Africa abroad to assist the country promote investments, economic growth and job creation. The key challenges that needs to be addressed and which informs the Department’s strategic plans were governance challenges of state owned entities, delayed digital migration project and inadequate communication of government programmes and plans.

Other key priorities for the Department is to work on Broadcast and communication policies and legislation approved for implementation as well as developing  broadcasting policy papers for international engagements. The Department shall also conduct research and develop a broadcasting radio frequency spectrum dividend policy which will be used to issue policy directions to ICASA. The Department is also looking at providing community radio stations with broadcasting infrastructure, developing and obtaining Cabinet approval of a National Communication Policy and Plan which include branding of the country, develop a media transformation, diversity and development policy, develop, adopt and implement Community Media Support Strategy, draft Films and Publications Board Amendment Bill and review the films and media classification system.

The presentation by GCIS was on providing strategic leadership in government communication and Coordinating a government communication system that ensures that the public is informed about government’s policies, plans and programmes. GCIS has to make sure the three tiers of government are communicating effectively. The focus is to entrench communication best practice and this is being done through training and providing assistance to colleagues on the ground. The content development of GCIS is to enhance government’s communication products and services to grow the share of voice of government messages in the public arena. GCIS has a SA Year Book (SAYB) which was an important resource. This will be made available to National libraries and distributed to schools so that young people can learn about the country. GCIS has not only distributed the books physically but has developed CDs so that it can give it a bigger footprint and in the future, there is an intention to make it multi media.

GCIS recruited and trained in the local government network particularly. However, when staff got to a certain area of competence, they got pushed by local government and GCIS had to start again. This happened in the previous year. 

Though there was the need to share the expertise available, this created discomfort because people had to double up but it was critical to make sure to allow the freedom to migrate in between jobs in local government. Here, GCIS gathers reports on the functioning of government communication system in the Provinces. It also used the Thusong service center to roll out a basket of government services. It has now invested in mobile Thusong service centers. In the communities, GCIS makes sure it provides such services it is mandated to provide. It is a very useful intervention for GCIS and it is an area that would be strengthened. 

            On the broadcasting digital migration state of readiness, the Minister reiterated that the 2008 policy was going to give 70% subsidy for poor household. This means that the consumer was going to contribute 30%. With the new amendment, Department will now subsidize with 100%. She noted that this message is important so that when Members go to their constituencies, they can pass accurate information across to the people. She emphasized that the Department is committed to the migration project.   She said the Department had to define what the set up board control system was because that was the issue that has raised a lot of contention since previous policy did not define it. 

Broadcasting digital migration is intended to clear broadcasters from the radio frequency spectrum to enable the provision of mobile broadband services. With the migration to digital, STBs (or decoders) will be required to convert the incoming digital broadcast signal to a format that the existing televisions can display.  All television owning households that rely on the old analogue systems will require decoders to receive digital television. The Department has moved a great deal to move the project back on track and the Department is on track to ensure the project is launched.

Member’s questions focused on clarifications on the content consumption as well as the role of the media, the issues surrounding cyber warfare and how GCIS is dealing with it.
Why had some positions been vacant since last year? What was the exact date when the digital migration project will be launched?

On Afro phobia, SABC could do national competitions or essays whereby learners were told to write essays on xenophobia. This would afford the agency the opportunity to broadcast the essays. Members noted a book reading programme on radio whereby SABC could use that platform to read the essays on Afrophobia or Xenophobia.

Members asked if they could send in their written questions and receive written responses as they had to leave to attend other Parliamentary sittings.

The Chairperson expressed disappointment at Members attitude. She noted that from the attitude displayed, Members did not respect the Department and the entities. She reminded Members that when things went wrong with the Department or the Minister, DG or any other officer was not attending the meeting, Members will complain. Unfortunately, the Department was present yet Members were leaving the meeting. She asked Members how they thought the Department would feel. She noted that the Department had put in a lot of work in the presentation.

She apologized to the Department and in particular the entity that could not present. She maintained that Committee Members must do the honourable thing. She expressed her apologies and promised to give the Department enough time to respond to any question that may come from Members. She advised Committee Members to be responsible in their oversight functions.
 

Meeting report

Chairperson’s Opening Remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee Members and the delegation from the Department of Communications. She particularly thanked the Minister of Communications, Ms Faith Muthambi for sending her presentations on time for the Committee Members to go through. Mr M Rayi (ANC) remarked that there should be coordination between the Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises and the Portfolio Committee on Communications.

Presentation by the Minister of Communications
The Minister for Communications, Ms Faith Muthambi noted that from May 2015, the Department will be embarking on a Provincial consultation on the Community Broadcasting Support Strategy. The idea behind the project is to engage with community and district Municipalities on how best to support community broadcasters. She said it is the policy of the governing party that there must be a radio station per district municipalities, at least one community television per Province. The DoCs mantra is that nothing will happen in the Province without the involvement of the Premiers offices. The first entry point will be to engage with Premiers to carry out with MDDA, SENTHECH together with MDDA, CENTEC and NIMASA. She reminded Members that the Department has been engaging Provincial Premiers on the issue of community broadcasters.  

Minister Muthambi emphasized that the intention is based on the instruction from Parliament that all stakeholders will collectively work together to address and unblock all problems in the station in the Provinces. These had assisted the Department a lot in streamlining its signals distributing support and stations equivalent roll out plan. The DoC was continuing this approach and will ensure that Members constituencies get the best public service from the Department and any problems or challenges get quickly and swiftly resolved.

She confirmed that the digital migration policy and the broad band connect policy are now in place. With these comes a need for redevelopment of the digital content strategy. The Ministry noted that there are actually two or three Provinces namely, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal and Western Cape that has content production capacity and were actively involved in producing content. Government does not believe that it is necessary when you want to produce content about Umlazi then you have to travel to Johannesburg. It is within this context that the Department has been collaborating with DTI to finalize this strategy.

The SABC had also started looking at the strategy and starting to produce content for various Provinces throughout the country. They have the so called Provincial Production hubs so as to enhance this strategy.  She said the Department will appreciate if Members can afford the DoC another opportunity to brief Members on this strategy as they affect their constituencies directly.

With regards to the xenophobic and Afrophobic attacks the country is experiencing, the Minister said the Department will be working together with the MDDA, SABC and ICASA on programmes production. Here the Department will be training stations especially young journalists on producing content that will be dealing directly with issues of immigration, job creation, crime and unemployment amongst others. SABC will be the Departments major partner because of the capacity SABC has in terms of writers and production facilities. The DoC is serious when it releases a statement that the attacks should not happen in the country. Brand SA will also be involved in this campaign.

Minister Muthambi hinted that from the first quarter of this year, the Department will be focusing on training community broadcasters on how to report and cover the local government election. SABC experiences in covering Provincial and National elections will come in handy in this regard for the underfunded and understaffed community broadcasters. The GCIS Provincial and Liaison support system is ready to deliver communication services to our people in all corners of SA. Information is the most important means to empower the marginalized people many of whom reside in our rural areas. The GCIS has therefore prioritized its leadership of inter-departmental communications through joint planning and sharing of messages across the three tiers of government to ensure the coherence of messages. The Departments service centers are an important access point for government services in many of the communities. These offices provide access to home affairs services such as application for ID documents, Departments of Social Developments, registration for social grants, and information resources for small business opportunities through the DTI. The Departments programme which takes political principals to communities continue to grow as it take government programme of action to the people and we listen to the community needs. This is an important part of accounting to our people and clarifying government policies. 

Minister Muthambi, with delight, announced to the Committee Members that in the Imbizo which held from 7th to the 12th of April, 2015, the Department achieved more than 70 imbizo engagement and the Department will sustain this throughout the year.

Vuk’uzenzele was a newspaper that was close to many readers and it will carry government job vacancy in July. The papers are distributed to 1.7 million South Africans. This will allow people particularly those in the rural areas the opportunity to apply for jobs in governments. This adverts currently only appear in national newspapers which the people in rural areas do not have aces to. Some cannot afford to buy them.

The Departments support for community media is unwavering with more than R36 millions of government advertising allocated to community media. This investment made a very significant contribution to the sustainability of community media, the training and development of communicators also in the Provinces will receive a renewed focus as capacity is enhanced amongst the communicators at local municipality levels. This will also entrench government rapid response to situations as they arise on the ground and combat negative information on government service delivery record.

The Chairperson expressed delight at the Minsters presentation and the work of the Ministry especially the giant strides she has been doing. She was happy about the Imbizos and the information about xenophobia. It was an opportunity to educate South African on how to treat foreigners. There is the need to do that. She wondered whether South Africa understands what contributions other Africans are bringing into the country.  

Presentation by the Department of Communications
Mr Ndivhuho Munzhelele, DoC Deputy Director General (DDG) gave the presentation on the strategic plan and the annual performance plan of the DoC.

Mr Munzhelele reminded the Committee Members that the GCIS Mandate was derived from the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in particular the principles of freedom of expression, freedom to receive or impart information or ideas and freedom of artistic creativity. Its main focus is to deepen democracy and sustain nation-building and patriotism by ensuring that the citizenry is informed about government programmes and that they are able to influence and participate in such programmes.

He noted that the Departments mandates are derived from the President's pronouncement when establishing the Department, and these are to Develop an overarching communications and broadcasting policy and strategy; Provide information, dissemination and publicity to promote an informed citizenry; and Brand South Africa abroad to assist the country promote investments, economic growth and job creation.

The situational analysis as explained by Mr Munzhelele showed that Communication played an important supportive role in the realization of Government strategic objectives as outlined in the National Development Plan and the Medium-Term Strategic Framework. It energized and mobilizes the nation to take active role in realizing the government's programme of radical economic transformation which addresses poverty, unemployment and inequality.  It was a catalyst in promoting nation-building, unity and social cohesion. A case in example was the Afrophobic attack being witnessed in the country and the amount of communication that has happened since then shows that the nation’s ability to engage each other has resorted to resolving issues quicker and faster. It protects and defends the image of government by proactively communicating government messages and showcasing delivery successes, challenges and corrective action plans.

He further stated that Government communication happens largely at three levels, namely, print media, broadcasting and face-to-face engagement with the citizens through programmes such as Imbizo. However, the key challenges that need to be addressed and which informed the Department’s strategic plans were:
The media had remained largely dominated by monopoly players with its ownership and management remaining far below prevailing population demographics, hence the need for transformation.
Communication content which is driven by a minority of companies
The challenges posed by the emergence of social media. People wherever they are generate news everyday. The news was moving fast via Facebook and other new forms of social media. It is no longer waiting from the mainstream media to give the news. 
Poor funding of the public broadcaster. The role of public broadcaster both in television and radio space becomes very critical. In some instances radio becomes that source of information in a particular community. Its funding is important so that he can be able to discharge his functions accordingly which is to inform, educate and entertain South Africans.
Inadequate performance of public and community broadcasting


Mr Munzhelele said the Key challenges that needs to be addressed and which informs the Department’s strategic plans are governance challenges of state owned entities, delayed digital migration project and  Inadequate communication of government programmes and plans. He also spoke on the strategic goals and strategic objectives being set to achieve the Department’s mandate.

The Implementation of the National Development Plan and the Outcomes Approach is as set out in Outcome 14 - Nation Building and Social Cohesion. It has got target on what needs to be achieved. The Department plays a role in implementing Outcome 14: Nation Building and Social Cohesion. It is expected to provide support to the Department of Sport and Recreation in improving the pride South Africans have in the national sporting teams. The target is achieving 66% by 2019. Furthermore, the Department has a role in "Forging a new overarching identity".  It needs to influence South Africans to be proud South Africans and it has to improve the target from 66% to 75% of South Africans reflecting pride to be South Africans.  The Department has also a  role in improving identity based on self-description, from 52% to 60% target. It will also drive a broadcasting system that preserves, informs and reflects the cultural heritage of all South Africans with a view to achieving 70% content that reflects South Africans.

The Five-Year Strategic Plan Targets and 2015/16 Annual Performance Plan Priorities relates to programmes and policies to be put in place so that the Department can comply with various Statutes. They touch on the issues relating to human resource policies, financial policies, supply chain policies, IT policies. The Department has adopted GCIS policies so as not to start afresh. He spoke on the priorities of the Department. The first is the review of the broadcasting policy. Here the Committee will be involved in consultations. The Department will also look at the Broadcasting Amendment Bill, obtain Cabinet approval, facilitate enactment by Parliament and monitor implementation. It shall also amend the ICASA Account in regards to the number of the Councilors, obtain Cabinet approval, facilitate enactment by Parliament and monitor implementation. The Department will develop, implement and monitor Community Broadcasting Support Strategy.

Other key priorities for the Department is to work on Broadcast and communication policies and legislation approved for implementation as well as developing  broadcasting policy papers for international engagements. The Department shall also conduct research and develop a broadcasting radio frequency spectrum dividend policy which will be used to issue policy directions to ICASA. 

The issue of production set up boxes is an issue that needs to be addressed vigorously. The targets here are indicative targets. The Department has to ensure the boxes reached everybody in the country especially those in the borderline areas where there might be interference with Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana. There is going to closer collaboration with those communities.

The Department is also looking at Providing community radio stations with broadcasting infrastructure, developing and obtaining Cabinet approval of a National Communication Policy and Plan which include branding of the country, develop a media transformation, diversity and development policy, develop, adopt and implement Community Media Support Strategy, Draft Films and Publications Board Amendment Bill and Review the films and media classification system.

The next area is on major transformation which critical and these talks to the community media and how they play in that space. There is the commitment to implement such projects as are indicated in the presentation.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked the Department if they could hand in written responses as some Members would like to send in their questions at a later stage.

Mr Rayi remarked that communication was a powerful tool for the country. He asked for some clarifications on the content consumption. He remarked that information is as powerful as it is equally dangerous when it goes to the citizens at the grassroots level. From time to time there can be information that is poisonous repeatedly without any counter measure to demystify such a myth. The role of the media in ensuring there is an intervention to correct such imbalances becomes extremely important.
The media house is a powerful house which is historically in the hands of the very powerful few. At the ownership level, it is any collaboration with the powerful international people that will influence the socio-political and economic development country.

Presentation by Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS)
Mr Donald Liphoko, GCIS Acting Director General, gave the presentation on GCIS. He said the GCIS mandate was to provide strategic leadership in government communication and coordinate a government communication system that ensures that the public is informed about government’s policies, plans and programmes. This was the area of focus. GCIS had to make sure the three tiers of government are communicating effectively. The focus is to entrench communication best practice and this is being done through training and providing assistance to colleagues on the ground.   He further stated that GCIS functions effectively in taking the Executive to the people.
In the Imbizo just concluded, Mr Liphoko said GCIS was able to take not only members of Cabinet to engage with the community but there was the rare privilege of working with Premiers, Executive Mayors. This ensured that GCIS had a full grasp of what was on ground. What was clear is that this Imbizos were not just talk shops where government talks at people but as an opportunity to listen, and a do evaluative work especially on the part of the Ministers.

The strategic goals of GCIS show how it integrates with other agencies that are in the Department. However, the linkages worked around how the government portrays itself and that of the State. others include: Professionalizing  the communication system, build a reliable knowledge base and enhance communication products; Maintaining and  strengthening  a well-functioning communication system that proactively  informs and engages the public; Providing an efficient and effective marketing & advertising Agency for government and Providing a responsive and business-focused corporate services.

The corporate strategy of GCIS is underpinned by the 2014 – 2019 National Communication Strategic Framework, approved by Cabinet in June 2014. The strategy, even though not fully funded, employs a more measured approach to government communications. Government’s focused implementation of the Programme of Action in pursuit of the National Development Plan presents a powerful opportunity to showcase the changing face of the South African landscape. The growth in digital and mobile communications presents government with the opportunity and challenge of engaging interactively with citizens and stakeholders, and to join in social conversations. This would however, not be at the expense of development communications.

Mr Liphoko stated that the strategic objective under the Content Processing & Dissemination plan is to provide strategic leadership in government communication for the purposes of ensuring coherence, coordination, consistency, quality, impact and responsiveness of government communication. This is with the aim of enhancing government’s communication products and services to grow the share of voice of government messages in the public arena. He asked how does government puts its story across in an effective way through all the available media platforms. This is focus of GCIS. To do this effectively, he said GCIS has developed the Vuk'uzenzele newspaper to be available to show case the work that has been done. In July, 2015 when the job supplement will be introduced in Vu'kuzenzele, the intention of GCIS is to increase the frequency of the newspaper. The publication is expected to go out twice a month. This is an important way of getting more information to the public.

The GovComms was a publication that is being sent out to government communicators and it is used to share best practice and case studies. This can serve as reference point by Communicators so that when issues of implementing a shared code of ethics around communication, they will be able to learn from one another what it is and how to implement it. 

He noted that the other area in terms of content development is to enhance government’s communication products and services to grow the share of voice of government messages in the public arena. GCIS has a SA Year Book (SAYB) which is an important resource. This will be made available to National libraries and distributed to schools so that young people can learn about the country. GCIS has not only distributed the books physically but has developed CDs so that it can give it a bigger footprint and in the future, there is an intention to make it multi media. SA News speaks to the work of GCIS. It is important that GCIS shares what it does with all South Africans. 

Mr Liphoko further noted that the other key aspect of the content development is in the area of national policy and research. The Strategic Objective here is to provide strategic leadership and support in government communication through public opinion research and analysis of media coverage to understand the communication environment and inform government messages.  GCIS goes out and consult South Africans. Questions asked bothers on the issues that are of concern to South Africans. that information is used in communication strategy for the cluster  it is the information used in developing content for opinion, speeches that really guides communication with the public. Ministers are now writing more opinion pieces as evident in the Independent Newspaper. Thus the number of public opinion research reports on government priorities had been produced and the number of report on government communication monitoring and evaluation has also been produced.

For the programme on Communication Service Agency, Mr Liphoko emphasized that the strategic objective is to provide effective and efficient marketing and distribution services for government. Depending on personal business cards, how people locate our offices, the language being communicated in at those offices are matters that are very important. GCIS was consulting with other Departments. There is also a team responsible for media buying. This is important to as to portray accountability on government spending to effect transformation particularly to support community media. Thus the percentage of approved media services and products requests has been implemented. 

The Provincial and Local liaison works to improve interdepartmental coordination by joint planning and sharing of messages across the three spheres of government to ensure coherence and alignment of government messages. GCIS recruits and train in the local government network particularly. However, when staff gets to a certain area of competence, they get pushed by local government and GCIS will have to start again. This happened in the previous year. 

Though there is the need to share the expertise available, this creates discomfort because people have to double up but it is critical to make sure to allow the freedom to migrate in between jobs in local government. Here, GCIS gathers reports on the functioning of government communication system in the Provinces. It also uses the Thusong service center to roll out a basket of government services. It has now invested in mobile Thusong service centers. In the communities, GCIS makes sure it provides such services it is mandated to provide.   It is a very useful intervention for GCIS and it is an area that would be strengthened. 

On media engagement, Mr Donald Liphoko, noted that essence of this programme is to implement a proactive media engagement system by building, maintaining and improving relations with the media and drive the government communication agenda.

The media engagement team leads the rapid response system. Every morning, there is an assessment of the media environment such as what is in the news. This assists GCIS to decide quickly what the story line will be for the rest of the day.  The number of engagements between government officials and senior  journalists on the government  PoA  and policy  issues has increased. This programme is only operating in the Pretoria region. The idea is to push this programme into the Provinces so that the media can respond more immediately to the issue as they emerge on ground. This is a particular area of focus and he enjoined Members to assist them through close monitoring. Other issues evolve around GCIS’s day to day activities such as post-cabinet media briefings and statements issued after ordinary cabinet meeting. GCIS has started a project on how foreign citizens are integrated into the country by publishing materials in foreign languages so that they can have access to information in the country. 

Mr Liphoko further stated that the cluster communication projected is designed to improve interdepartmental coordination by joint planning and sharing of messages across the three spheres of government to ensure coherence and alignment of government messages. Through this programme, GCIS engages in coordination and dissemination of content through internal & external communication forums; alignment of cluster communication strategies to National Communication Strategy; build partnerships with key stakeholders. It also ensures the functioning of internal communication system.

He concluded that the GCIS was committed to assisting all government departments and its entities with government communications services. GCIS also remains committed to communicating the National Development and Government's plans, programmes and achievements and will, together with other departments, implement the National Communication Strategy (NCS).

Discussion
The Chairperson noted that Members can respond in writing as a follow up. She stated that there were issues surrounding Cyber warfare. She therefore wanted to know how GCIS was dealing with the issue.  She said it is a very serious matter and it is not usually discussed here in South Africa and it remains a threat in social media. She sought for further clarifications on what GCIS is doing in that regards.

Mr Rayi wanted to know if all the entities have concluded their presentations since he still had a presentation document from an entity with him.

The Chairperson responded that it was an oversight. She therefore asked the DoC to present on the broadcasting digital migration state of readiness. 

Presentation by the Department of Communications on the Broadcasting Digital Migration state of readiness
Minister Muthambi gave an update on this programme. She reminded Members that the President signed the initial proclamation last year. Then the President transferred the entire ECA to the Minister of Telecommunications. That led to the confusion as to where does BGM belong because the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) has provisions on the Broadcasting infrastructure issues and then the Broadcasting Act was transferred to DoC. finally in November, the President rectified that. The area that deals with broadcasting spectrum in the ECA belongs to DoC. consequent to that, the Department had a hand over meeting of the project. On 31 January 2015, the team working on the project was able to produce the amended version to Cabinet for approval of the digital policy and the Cabinet approved the policy on the 4 March 2015. It was gazette on the 18 March 2015. 

Minister Muthambi reiterated that the 2008 policy was going to give 70% subsidy for poor household. This means that the consumer was going to contribute 30%. With the new amendment, Department will now subsidize with 100%. She noted that this message is important so that when Members go to their constituencies, they can pass accurate information across to the people. She emphasized that the Department is committed to the migration project.   She said the Department had to define what the set up board control system was because that was the issue that has raised a lot of contention since previous policy did not define it. 

DoC Presentation
Mr Ndivhuho Munzhelele did the presentation. He reminded the Members that the broadcasting digital migration policy is a policy which has been in the country since 2003. The first policy was passed in 2008. He noted that there ought to have been a migration but the country is still stuck in the initial phases.  

Giving a background to the project, he stated that on  02 December 2014 a second proclamation on the transfer of administration of and powers and functions entrusted by the legislation to certain Cabinet members in terms of section 97 of the constitution was gazette. The Proclamation allocated responsibilities to the Minister of Communications (MOC) and Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services (MOTPS). He noted that the MOC and MOTPS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Implementation of certain matters relating to the transfer of powers and functions under the ICASA Act and ECA Act. Formal handover of the projects to be managed by the DoC (DOC) from DTPS was done on 30 January 2015. Following this formal handover, the DoC submitted a memorandum to Cabinet in February 2015 regarding the final amendments to the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy.

The analogue terrestrial television was first introduced in South Africa in 1976. He stated that currently almost all televisions in South Africa can only receive analogue terrestrial broadcasting signal.  The main focus for the current Digital Migration Programme is to address the population that still relied on the old free-to-air analogue system. In simple terms, Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) is the conversion of the old analogue television to digital television.

This is as a result of the treaty the country signed with the ITU. Countries in Region 1 (Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Republic of Iran) should migrate broadcasting services from analogue to digital by 17 June 2015 as per ITU agreement. The implication of non-migration is that beyond 17 June 2015 analogue signals will not be protected against interference. 

Broadcasting digital migration is intended to clear broadcasters from the radio frequency spectrum to enable the provision of mobile broadband services.

With the migration to digital, STBs (or decoders) will be required to convert the incoming digital broadcast signal to a format that the existing televisions can display.  All television owning households that rely on the old analogue systems will require decoders to receive digital television.

In August 2008 Cabinet approved the Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) Policy. The BDM Policy was amended in February 2012.  In September 2012, e.tv took government to court disputing the right of the Minister of Communications to appoint SENTECH to manage the network control system. The court ruled in favour of e.tv that the management of the control system should be decided upon by the free to air broadcasters.

On 04 December 2013, Cabinet approved the proposed amendments to the BDM policy to the effect that:

the use of set-top-box control by broadcasters will be  non-mandatory  and specifying 1 April 2014 as the commencement date for digital television signal; and
The Ministers of Communications and Finance to meet and agree on an appropriate STB subsidy model.


On 06 December 2013, the approved amendments to the Policy were gazette for public comments. 

On 4 March 2015 Cabinet approved that:
BDM Amendment  Policy with the inclusion of the control system in the Set Top Box (STB), which will be clearly defined when the policy is  published;
to commence and expedite the process of digital migration, government will provide free STBs to the five (5) million poor TV-owning households in South Africa, with priority given to the border region areas of the country; and
Digital signal switch-on and analogue signal switch-off dates will be determined by the Minister in consultation with Cabinet. 

For the purposes of implementing DTT in South Africa, the following was agreed upon:
STBS are a transitional tool to enable migration from analogue to digital television;
control system does not mean a conditional access system nor does it mean an encryption of the signal to control access to content by viewers;
control system refers to a security future to encourage local electronic manufacturing sector;
the STB must have minimal switching (on/off) security features to protect the subsidized STBs from theft or leaving South Africa borders; and
Must have capabilities to enable the provision of government information and services.

Mr Liphoko emphasized that there were no changes required to the SANS 862 standard. He further commented on the high level milestones and the status of those milestones till date (see DOC).

He noted that the Department has moved a great deal to move the project back on track and the Department is on track to ensure the project is launched.

Discussion
Mr Rayi commended the Department for the strategic plan and the APPs presented. He suggested that there should be a Friday where the Minister is invited to give the strategic plan and the APPs of the entities. He maintained that the presentation should not only be for the Department.

Mr Rayi also raised the issue of the Imbizo which the Minister mentioned. He advised that what should be done is to request one or two Members from the designated constituency to accompany the Minster to the Province so as to form part of the Imbizo. Those Members could be there to observe and not necessarily to participate. He wondered why the Imbizos done by other agencies is not being covered the same way the one by the Minister is being covered. 

On one of the programmes done by SABC called 'A view from the House', he noted that the programme is done with regards to government communication. It involves the work being done by SABC and other broadcasters. He wanted more programmes that would highlight the activities of government more. 

With regards to Parliament, Mr Rayi noted that SABC has a dedicated programme focusing on the Parliament but there is no similar programme where government can project its activities. 

On Afro phobia, he suggested that SABC can be do national competitions or essays whereby learners are told to write essays on xenophobia. This would afford the agency the opportunity to broadcast the essays. He noted a book reading programme on radio whereby SABC can use that platform to read the essays on Afro phobia or Xenophobia.

On GCIS, Mr Rayi asked why some positions have been vacant from April 2013 till date. For the Director General, the person in charge is still in an acting capacity. He wanted to know when the position will be filled up. With regards to Vuk’uzenzele, he wanted to know if there is a possibility of having an avenue for immediate response from government to clarify issues raised. He asked if there is a consideration for a weekly newspaper like Vuk’uzenzele to be considered. He also wanted the distribution of newspapers to areas where there are no newspapers or areas where there is a dominant newspaper.

He noted that the digital migration project has been in the pipeline for long. He therefore wanted to have an inner form of ATT so that Members are able to monitor the implementation. There are targets which have not been completed. Others are partially completed. If there are target indicators or time frames, Members will able to do their work with regards to oversight. He also sought for clarifications on the issue of set boxes whether there is any local content in the manufacturing of the set boxes. He wondered why there is a focus on national government but there is no coverage of the outreach programmes of Executives that are taking place in the Provinces. 


On Brand SA, Mr Rayi expressed worries that there is the tendency to brand South Africa outside the country without any effort to brand South Africa within the country. He asked what programmes are in place to brand South Africa to the citizens of the country.  

The Chairperson noted a request from a Committee Member asking whether Members could send in their questions for written reply because some Members have to leave to attend to other meetings. She also allowed those who could not stay to send in their written questions.

Mr F Smit (DA) agreed to receive written responses more so it had become a common practice for the Committee. He noted that the Department requested the Treasury and the Auditor General to intervene in the recovery of outstanding amounts from unnamed service provider. He asked the Department to clarify the amount particularly and if possible to clarify the provider in question. He wondered that the MDDA has not recovered more that R25 million from government yet it has a big task to fill. He wanted to know why the Department has been silent on this funding requirement from the MDDA and why there has not been a budget for it.

Ms B Masango (DA) reiterated her request to be allowed to send questions in writing. She however noted that the presentations were quite helpful in making one understand the work being done. It also triggered quite a number of clarity questions and she would appreciate an opportunity to send the questions so she can get the answers in writing. She hinted that the questions cover a wide range of the aspects of the presentations from the Department itself to GCIS and the digital update. It will also cover the kind of programmes that are going to be coming out in the provision of job and whether the communities are ready for that. Other issues include monitoring of the legislation that is being implemented, how the monitoring and the evaluation are implemented and whether they are implemented at all.  

Ms Masango also said she would be very much interested in the research element especially if there has been an example of any previous research and documents that has been conducted in the past. She believes that the feedback coming from the public is a huge issue. The communities are expected to send comments to government about the services that are provided. She is interested on how much of this is coming from the rural section of the population. She promised to send her detailed written question to the Department.

The Chairperson expressed concern on the long timeframes on the actualization of the digital migration. She noted there was no short time frames. She enjoined the Department to indicate timeframes in the target section so as ensure proper monitoring.  On internships and security systems, she noted there are no time frames. She wanted to know how many interns will be employed per year and when will the procurement process commence?   She also asked what steps has been taken by SABC in the Department to ensure stability in the Board following the removal of three of its members last month.

Mr Rayi made some remarks on the issue of communication. He maintained that there should be no confusion in the society when there is the Department and the instrument to communicate. There has not been a discussion on the issue of SABC Board Members. The issue is the removal of some members and the impression that has created in the community. It has created the impression that the Board was unstable, there should be clarity in the mind of the citizens. He clarified that this was a Select Committee which is different from the Portfolio Committee. The Select Committee focuses on the interest of the Provinces. He however noted that there is no coverage of the activities of the Select Committee, but on a daily basis, there is a coverage of the Portfolio Committee of the National Assembly. He maintained that the two Committees are equal both being from the National Assembly.

Brand SA Comments
A representative of Brand SA noted that the entity was not going to present. His challenge was that staff members came from Johannesburg solely for the presentation. Their intention was to present. He said it may be difficult and costly to return to Johannesburg without presenting and come back on Friday. Besides it is a huge waste of time and resources for three people to come without presenting. He noted that a matter has been raised concerning entities under the Department. That relates to Members asking for coverage and not ignoring the Provinces. What is being presented has been well covered. He appealed that rather than bring people back again on Friday, Brand SA could answer some questions posed in the presentations. He said the current expenditure of the entity will not permit Brand SA to come back again on Friday.

Discussions
Mr Smit remarked that this is one of the issues the Committee has been battling with and that is trying to put a whole lot of things into one meeting. He advised that the Committee handles one entity in the Department at a time so that it can interrogate that specific entity adequately. 

The Chairpersons wondered where the confusion is coming from. She agreed with Mr CF Smit on the fact that the issue has been addressed previously. She asked the Secretary to clarify this and trace the source of the problem.

The Committee Secretary clarified that the letter she sent out was very specific to  say the Select Committee was inviting the Department. The letter also asked the Department to address the issue of digital migration.   The letter did not invite the entities due to time constraint. She said apparently, the Department appeared before the Portfolio Committee in the previous day with the entities hence Brand SA assumed that would have to be here today.

The Chairperson advised that the Committee will have to organize a workshop for the agencies where there is no time to deal with all the agencies. She therefore asked if the Members would be available to listen to Brand SAs presentation seeing they have come all the way with the intention to present. Thereafter, questions to their presentation can be sent in writing. 

Mr Rayi responded that the brief to the Department was specific as to who was invited. But he was worried that there are only 3 Members currently in attendance and he had indicated that he would leave early to attend an interview. He requested the Chairperson to apologize to Brand SA and another meeting arranged when all the entities would be able to present. He did not support the idea of sending written questions but emphasized the importance of proper presentation. 

SABCs Comments
Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng, SABC Chief Operating Officer, noted the readiness of SABC for BDM which was ready for presentation. He disagreed with the idea of sending responses in writing. For SABC he maintained that presentation is important because the entity want to engage with the Members. Members can ask questions and give input. Those questions and input will assist the public broadcaster. He said SABC has put aside more than R600 million for Provincial content for the first time in the history of SABC moving from R100 million. He noted that the emerging production houses are busy producing content. SABC has asked the big production house to assist them because they do not have the capacity, skills and expertise to write for television. For radios there are many writers and producers in different Provinces. This showed that SABC has improved tremendously.

On coverage of NCOP, he said the Committee has commended the SABC. To this effect, the promise was to assign individuals to NCOP activities and SABC has appointed two ladies to work with the Committee on a rotational basis. He maintained that there should be monitoring of Members’ activities, otherwise, there would be no way of knowing that the Committee is working. He believes SABC has fulfilled its promises.

Mr Motsoeneng further stated that it is important SABC improves on the NCOP coverage especially on the educational area. He said most people just know Parliament but they do not know the difference between NCOP and Parliament. There is the need to fuse the coverage of the two Committees. Of SABC mixes coverage of both Committees on national TV, the desired impact of the set achievements will be lost. Thus their activities should be separated. There could be a two weeks period in between covering the activities of the Select Committee and the Portfolio Committee. 

On the stability of the SABC on management side, he noted that SABC has fulfilled all the vacancies within the organization and all the appointees were women. He emphasized that no one was born with experience, one acquires experience on the job. There should be genuine transformation, women and people with disability should be encouraged in appointments. SABC want to lead by example as a public entity. 

Mr Motsoeneng clarified the misconceptions that have been circulating on the National Archives. He denied that SABC has sold the National Archives to multichoice. He said National Archives are not SABC Archives but citizen’s archives. SABC cannot deny the citizens to receive those National Archives. Whether they are scholars or researchers, they are entitled to national archives. What SABC keeps is the original archives. SABC supplies other broadcasters internationally. These people cannot be denied. What SABC does is to license content to other broadcasters. There are two archives: commercial and national. Commercial Archives is where business is done. If SABC cannot license other broadcasters, then it will not be able to produce the same content. He asked who will pay those production houses if SABC does not license other broadcasters.

Mr Rayi noted that SABC said it will not be able to respond in writing to the questions. In effect, they have done their response. However, he observed that other Members have left the meeting, he thus requested GCIS and other entities to respond in writing. Other Members have gone to attend other Parliamentary Meetings.

The Chairperson was displeased and expressed disappointment at Members attitude. She noted that from the attitude displayed today, Members do not respect the Department and the entities. She said reminded Members that when things go wrong with the Department or the Minister, DG or any other officer is not attending the Meeting, Members will complain. Unfortunately, the Department is here while Members are leaving the meeting, she asked Members how they thought the Department would feel. She noted that the Department has put in a lot of work in the presentation.

She apologized to the Department and in particular the entity that could not present. She maintained that Committee Members must do the honourable thing. She expressed her apologies and promised to give the Department enough time to respond to any question that may come from Members. She advised Committee Members to be responsible in their oversight functions.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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