Film and Publication Board (FPB) public outreach and education programme

NCOP Communications and Public Enterprise

13 September 2017
Chairperson: Ms E Prins (ANC; Western Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The Film and Publications Board (FPB) briefed the Select committee on Communications and public enterprises on its outreach and public education programme. The briefing included their mandate, how they achieve their objectives, outreach findings and recommendations, their strategic outcomes and their Annual Performance Plan.

Technology has changed and FPB was trying to improve the technology content regulation to match up to industry. Legislation has had to be changed to deal with this change. The campaign approach for the outreach report involved a purpose, target audience and assessment. The target audience included learners, parents and educators. The organisation worked with partners to have the platform to engage with ordinary South Africans.

The assessment methodology for the impact of outreach which was in its second year involved a 3-year cyber safety focus group, outreach assessment surveys and convergence surveys. Outreach research findings included convergence surveys on the perception of FPB and the awareness and the usefulness of classifiable elements. 79% agreed classification information provided by FPB should be better communicated to the public. The organisation needed to improve on marketing to the public and communication with children. The outreach recommendations from workshops included that less educators than children had prior knowledge of the FPB. This can be attributed to how children are the biggest consumers of media content.

In terms of research findings, the organisation has asked if the high levels of violence in the country was not linked to media consumption. There has been lobbying for the Department of Education to create a national policy on how to integrate digital tools in the classroom. Although the FPB was not responsible for broadcasters, they have been lobbying that classification guidelines are adopted across the board by all media houses.

The organisation has a budget of R99.5 million where 92% of it was from the operating grant from the Department of Communications.

Members of the Committee expressed concern that unsuitable content on television was easily accessible to children and measures must be put to control this. Some content specifically for children was also unsuitable content and must also be regulated. Members asked if awareness campaigns reached rural areas, what languages FPB published in and what the organisation was doing to address piracy in the industry.

 

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting and said that the Committee was to receive a briefing on the activities of the Film and Publication Board (FPB). Apologies were given by the Minister and Deputy Minister. The Chairperson said the Committee was feeling uncomfortable because they never attended meetings.

Mr P Parkies (ANC; Free State) said the Chairperson should write a letter to the Minister.

Film and Publication Board

Ms Thoko Mpumlwana, Chairperson, FPB, began by stating that the organisation did not regulate broadcasters or print media and did not have the mandate to censor. External revenue in terms of market and industry was shrinking so they are remodelling revenue schemes based on the new media industry. She added that FPB worked well with police on catching online child sexual exploitation and material. They would also like to engage more with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) as young people have access to smart phones.

Ms Abongile Mashele, Acting Chief Operations Officer, FPB, said FPB’s mandate was to put specific mechanisms in place to make sure decisions are credible and reflective of South African values and norms. FPB achieved objectives by ensuring harmful content in the media was appropriately labelled and premature exposure to children and sensitive viewers was prohibited. Research showed that exposure to content with violence impacted the behaviour of children.

Technology has changed and FPB was trying to improve the technology content regulation to match up to industry. Legislation has had to be changed to deal with this change. The campaign approach for the outreach report involved a purpose, target audience and assessment. It has a purpose to fulfil strategic outcomes of the FBP mandate, provide responsible media consumption, cyber safety education and to train law enforcement officers. The target audience included learners, parents and educators. The organisation worked with partners to have the platform to engage with ordinary South Africans.

Ms Mashele explained that there was a fair reach for all nine provinces. During 2016/17, 1 748 parents, 885 educators, 24121 learners, nine law enforcement workshops, eight distributor workshops and nine in-cinema activations were reached during 2016/2017.

The assessment methodology for the impact of outreach which was in its second year involved a 3-year cyber safety focus group, outreach assessment surveys and convergence surveys. Outreach research findings included convergence surveys on the perception of FPB and the awareness and the usefulness of classifiable elements. 79% agreed classification information provided by FPB should be better communicated to the public. The organisation needed to improve on marketing to the public and communication with children. The outreach recommendations from workshops included that less educators than children had prior knowledge of the FPB. This can be attributed to how children are the biggest consumers of media content.

In terms of research findings Ms Mashele stated that the organisation has asked if the high levels of violence in the country was not linked to media consumption. There has been lobbying for the Department of Education to create a national policy on how to integrate digital tools in the classroom. Although the FPB was not responsible for broadcasters, they have been lobbying that classification guidelines are adopted across the board by all media houses. In the 2016/17 financial year, roughly R4.4 million was spent on branding and marketing. This included the outreach and awareness campaigns.

On the Annual Performance Plan (APP), Ms Mashele said that there were 5 strategic outcomes. Strategic outcome 1 was the regulatory mandate of the FPB. This was the effective and visible monitoring of films, games and certain publication throughout the entire value chain to protect children and inform the general public

Strategic outcome 2 was public education and awareness. This was to meet social cohesion imperative by informing consumers, society and industry. The targets included media relations and digital literacy campaign and increasing digital and social media engagement

Strategic outcome 3 was the capacity and capability of the institution. This involved administrative functions. The targets are on how to ensure there was a conducive human resources environment and how controls are tested in internal audits to develop and maintain organisational policy. Another target included the creation of a secure and enabling environment.

Strategic outcome 4 was ICT infrastructure and development. This is how FPB regulated the online space and developed tools to enable them to do so.

Strategic outcome 5 was stake holder engagement through targeting specific stakeholders in order to achieve their mandate. The organisation wanted to have a regional protocol on content regulation as content distribution had no borders.

Another major project the FPB had was the review of classification guidelines on how to reach classification decisions. There are reviews every five and this was a public policy process.

Mr Vuledzani Matidza, Acting Chief Financial Officer, FPB, explained that the organisation has a very small budget with R99.5 million. The budget was balanced with this revenue and 92% of it was from the operating grant from the Department of Communications.

Discussion

Mr P Parkies (ANC; Free State) said that a few weeks ago they met with the South African Broad Casting Cooperation (SABC). They said content distribution is an expensive element. He asked FPB to link their content distribution with that of SABC. He asked how they dealt and fulfilled prosperity for all. He asked how the organisation quantified the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement and what was meant by responsive views of media. Lastly he said that he was concerned that films that are produced in South Africa have a lot of violence and that they are easily accessible to kids.

Mr E Mlambo (ANC; Gauteng) said that FPB was doing good work. He asked how long the acting COO and CFO are acting for and how long they will take to find permanent employees for the posts

Mr O Sefako (ANC; North West) said we are overtaken by science and technology. He asked about the consumption of content on television as it is not suitable for people of a particular age. He asked if it was not being inquisitive to those that must not view it. He asked how best the consumer can be made aware without encouraging them. Lastly, he asked if they have cases where they can say when working with other stakeholders they have addressed piracy.

Ms Z Ncitha (ANC; Eastern Cape) asked if FPB was making an effort to get to rural areas as they get disadvantaged in terms of distances and infrastructure. Parents have the responsibility to monitor how children watched television but the time was concerning. She asked if it was not possible to show films which can affect children at a later time.

Mr L Gaehler (UDM; Eastern Cape) asked if the awareness campaigns are done in all languages. He stressed on the point that films must be controlled for children and he asked what measures can be put in place to ensure this.

The Chairperson asked how they are linking the relationship with service providers such as Vodacom and monitoring outcomes of their inspections.

On the acting positions, Mr Matidza responded by saying they are in the process of advertising the posts. The process took long for senior positions as the recruitment must be careful. Hopefully by next year they would have been filled.

Ms Mashele replied that unfortunately the organisation was working in an environment driven by technology. They must ensure there was outreach and assistance and they educated parents and children on how to use it. The consumption guidelines are linked to the watershed period. Television was not under the FPB as it is under the Broadcasting Act and the broadcasting authority. The Communications Department was trying to connect them to ensure there is the same standard. FPB did do go to rural areas. They have partnered with UNISA and in the last outreach, the chiefs asked for their website to send children to study.

Ms Mashele said that the classification rule is an output. There was a bigger rule on the role of family, impact of media and the aspirations for children. She appreciated the concerns about broadcasting content and said there must be a central way of classification guidelines. FPB can say they are the only institution with classification guidelines consulted with South Africans. They wanted broadcasters to come on board to adopt the guidelines as their own. She said that they have no jurisdiction but they have found through analysing content that 60% of the content that comes through them has mild to extreme violent content from the ages of thirteen upwards. Their role is to inform families. The effectiveness of outcomes was quantified through surveys.

In response to the question about stopping piracy, Ms Mashele said reports are done on a quarterly basis. The organisation dealt with piracy through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and SAPS to identify pirated content. Because of resource constraints they only have two additional languages. FPB has a regulatory relationship with some of the online distributors such as Vodacom which has online stores. They do inspections to make sure that they comply. FPB has a direct line to Google, Facebook and YouTube to take down material that was unsuitable.

Ms Mashele said SABC has its own channels of content distribution and FPB was a content regulator. They have role in the value chain to make sure they classified content distributed in South Africa. It did not extent to broadcasters, only limited to DVD stores, cinema stores and online material. There was a discrepancy as most material broadcasted on television was not blockbuster movies but material made for television.

Mr C Smit (DA; Limpopo) said that legislation was disconnected and must be consistent. He said children’s programmes have destructive elements built within them such as revenge, sexual undertones and violence. It must be strictly regulated as it was specifically focused on children

Mr Parkies said entities come to Parliament and engage but they never speak about time prescription on when thing must happen. Decisions must be made and somebody must lead the process.

Ms Ncitha asked who regulated and monitored broadcasting.

Ms N Mokgosi (EFF; Northern Cape) referred to page 10 on identifying provinces and asked when Northern Cape will be considered.

Mr Sefako referred to page 18 on the 2016/17 expenditure. He said they are operating with budget constraints but how best are they using the little they have, because 92% spent only mentioned one category (branding and marketing) and he asked for indication on the others.

Mr Gaehler asked which languages they are publishing in.

Ms Mashele said broadcasters have a self regulatory and a self-regulatory system. They are regulated by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). The Constitution was very specific on how far they go.  The self-regulatory system did not have the detail the FPB follows for classification guidelines. Expert advice from child development psychologists informed age levels. She agreed that content for children were becoming extremely destructive. Once there are guidelines on how they must approach content it was easier for them to allocate the appropriate age ratings.

She responded to Ms Mokgosi by saying they have been to the Northern Cape and it will be difficult to expand as it was only a three year project.

Mr Matidza said under spending and overspending was a problem. Allocations were spent as follows: strategic objective 1 (97%), strategic objective 2 (92%), strategic objective 3 (101%), strategic objective 4 (95%) and strategic objective 5 was 94% with 99% of the total budget spent. FPB used English and isiZulu.

Mr Sefako stated that all stakeholders and entities and their roles must be known

The Chairperson thanked the FPB for their time and interaction.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

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