ICASA Workshop on Role in Regulatory Environment

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Communications

08 October 2004
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

COMMUNICATIONS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
8 October 2004
ICASA WORKSHOP ON ROLE IN REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT

Chairperson:

Mr M Lekgoro (ANC)

Documents handed out:

ICASA Power Point Presentation: Telecommunications Unit
ICASA Power Point Presentation: Engineering and Technology branch
ICASA Power Point Presentation: Consumer Protection and Council Support
ICASA Power Point Presentation: Broadcasting Division
ICASA Power Point Presentation: Finances
ICASA Power Point Presentation: CEO's introduction

SUMMARY
An Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) delegation led an educational workshop, predominantly for the benefit of new Members. They briefed the Committee on their mandates, objectives, major deliverables, challenges and achievements. The Committee was concerned that ICASA's cost-cutting and restructuring process negatively affected staff morale; whether the income from license fees was for ICASA's benefit, and about the language issue on public radio.

MINUTES

ICASA workshop
The ICASA delegation briefed the Committee on their mandates, objectives, major deliverables, challenges and achievements. The Chief Executive Officer, Ms Jackie Manche, gave an introductory briefing on their core mandate, objectives, challenges and achievements.

The Chief Financial Officer, Ms Bridget Mohlala, General Manager of the Broadcasting Division, Mr Eric Nhlapo, General Manager of Telecommunications, Mr Peter Hlapolosa, General Manager of the Engineering and Technology branch, Mr Woltek Skowronski, and Ms Jayshree Naidoo from the Legal, Communications, Consumer Protection and Council Support division, each did a presentation on the functions of their Departments. The Committee mainly asked questions around the Convergence Bill, restructuring plans, operational cost cuts and low staff morale in the organisation.

Discussion
Ms C Vos (IFP) asked if the low staff morale was due to the company's restructuring plans.

Ms Jackie Manche responded that the restructuring process was not quite complete. There had been proposals to conclude the restructuring process, but no specific timeframe had yet been set. ICASA was mindful of the effect this has had on the remaining staff, and had identified the need to have counselling services for the staff.

The Chairperson commented that there were certain clauses in the Convergence Bill that might be suited to the ICASA Act. Ms Manche said they had looked at a number options of how clauses could be amended. The Bill should be ready for implementation in April 2006.

Ms C Nkuna (ANC) asked if there were timeframes attached to ICASA's progress plans. Did the money collected from licenses go to revenue or their financial systems?

Ms Mohlala replied that the plans would be ready for implementation after six months. All money collected from license fees went to national revenue.

Mr Randy Pieterse (ANC) commented that community radio licensing focussed only on cities. ICASA also had to look at correcting the language issue, as there was still an unequal usage of language. The SABC was still predominantly English. Women's sport was still not getting enough coverage from the SABC.

Mr P Mulder (FF) suggested that digital radio should have very little censorship. Mr A Maziya asked who regulated Maritime Radio Licenses. The Chairperson asked how seriously the watershed area was being monitored.

Mr Nhlapo replied that women's sport fixtures were not regularly broadcast. ICASA was busy conducting a public opinion poll on this issue. They were likely to set further broadcasting license conditions for the SABC. ICASA existed to promote diversity and policies were developed through public participation. The watershed area problem was a challenge for South Africa as a whole, and ICASA's Council would look at the issue.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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