Broadcasting Amendment Bill: proposed amendments & adoption

NCOP Public Enterprises and Communication

15 October 2008
Chairperson: Ms P Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee convened to discuss the proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Amendment Bill, which related to the rejection of Clause 1, the deletion of Clauses 2(a), (b) and (d), technical amendments to Clause 4, and the substitution of subclauses (b) on page 42, line 42. A new subclause (5) would also be added to deal with the quorum for the interim Board. Finally, the long title was to be amended by the deletion of the phrase “so as to substitute the definition of appointing body”. Members questioned how Section 1 of the principal Broadcasting Act would read after amendment, and were assured that the effect would be that this would not change. The reasons for changing Clause 2 were outlined. The reasons for the changes to the Long Title were also outlined. The State Law Advisers prepared a new draft, which was placed before the Committee, who then approved the Motion of Desirability. The majority of Members adopted the Bill, as amended, and the Committee Report, but the DA Member for North West recorded her objection to Clause 4 of the Bill, as she disagreed that the National Assembly should have the power to pass a resolution without first holding a proper inquiry. This objection was noted.

Meeting report

Broadcasting Amendment Bill (the Bill): Amendments being proposed
The Committee convened to discuss the proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Amendment Bill [B72 – 2008], which were tabled by way of four separate documents. The State Law Advisers were available to assist the Committee with any questions.

Ms J Terblanche (DA, North West) asked whether the proposed amendments in the documents handed out, came from the State Law Advisers.

The Chairperson said that she had concerns regarding a statement that was made by Linda Ensor in the media.

Mr Z Kolweni (ANC, North West) said that the Committee was not in the position to discuss what happened in the media and therefore suggested that this not be made as a formal discussion.

The Chairperson said that she was not making this a formal discussion but merely showing her concern.

Mr J Sibiya (ANC, Limpopo) agreed with the Chairperson, saying that he was concerned about the allegations because they were not true.

The Chairperson said that she wanted to make members aware of allegations that were made by the media and that it was only proper to inform members. She added that as the Chairperson, she was responsible to respond to those allegations.

Ms Terblanche asked whether the Chairperson had seen the amendments before the meeting commenced, as she herself had only received the documents when she arrived at the meeting.

The Chairperson said that she had had sight of the documents, and apologised for not sending them out sooner. She asked that Members give consideration to the proposed amendments.

Mr Sibiya asked why the proposed amendments were not being presented by the legal advisers.

The Chairperson asked Mr Ntwana, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, to present the amendments formally. 

Mr Ntwana noted that the proposal was to reject Clause 1, so that the wording would remain as the existing provision of the Broadcasting Act (the principal Act). 

Ms Terblanche wanted to know how the former provisions would be read.

Mr Ntwana then proceeded to explain all the changes that the amendments proposed. He added that the entire Clause 1 of the Bill would be removed.

In respect of Clause 2, subclauses (a), (b) and (d) would be deleted but subclauses (c) would remain.

Clause 3 remained the same.

In Clause 4, in line 33, after the second “of”, the phrase “any or all of the following” would be inserted. Then in line 40, “or” would be omitted and substituted with “and”. In line 42, subclause (b) would be omitted and substituted with a new subclause (b), which he read out to the Committee. He explained that the National Assembly could resolve to recommend the dissolution of the Board if it failed to do any or all of a number of things, which included failure to discharge its fiduciary duties, adhere to the Charter, or carry out the duties contemplated in section 13(11)”.

Finally, on page 4, after line 11 the following new subsection should be added: “(5) A quorum for any meeting of the interim Board is six members”.   

Mr Sibiya said that he was confused and questioned why they were dealing with clause 4 when the committee was looking at line 42.

Ms Z Adhikarie, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said that new copies were being issued to clarify that.

Mr Herman Smuts, State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, said that with regard to Clause 4, the changes that were made on page 3 were of a stylistic nature and not a substantive nature.

Ms Adhikarie said that the effect of the changes was merely to alter the wording, so that the words “it fails to” were being moved up to the main body of the Clause, instead of being repeated in each subclause. She reiterated that there were no substantive changes.

Ms Terblanche wanted to know who the authors were of the documents, as the changes were different in the documents.

Mr Smuts said that he had only seen one of the documents that morning, and that the State Law Advisers had taken what was contained in the original proposals, and redrafted them into a simpler form.

Mr Sibiya asked what document the Committee was looking at.

The Chairperson explained that all the typed documents were being tabled together, and that the legal advisors were available to advise.

Ms Adhikarie said that in the principal Act, there was a definition for “appointing body”. When the Bill had been presented before the National Assembly, it had contained a clause attempting to change that definition. That proposal had been rejected, so now the wording in the principal Act would be retained. It was no longer necessary, therefore, to make any reference to changing the definition, since this would not occur.

Mr Sibiya wanted to know whether only the words that were in bold would be rejected, or the whole of the clause.

Mr Ntwana said the members needed to look at the Bill to see which clause was being rejected.

The Chairperson asked Members to compare both the Bill that was originally handed out and the current documents. 

Mr Smuts explained that Clause 1 was to be rejected; therefore there would be no amendment in respect of the relevant section in the principal Act. The same principles would apply to Clause 2. Only subclauses (a), (b) and (d) would be deleted, but Clause 2(c) would remain as stated in the Bill that was originally handed out. During the National Assembly deliberations, there were presentations that stated that the Board did not do frequency planning, and therefore there was a need to retain subclause (c).

Ms Adhikarie said that frequency planning was done by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and not by the SABC Board, and that therefore the reference to it in this Bill was in fact misplaced. She stated that subclause(c) needed to be retained, but the references to “frequency planning” had to be removed.

Mr Smuts said that at the beginning of the Bill, there was an instruction as to how words that were in square brackets and words that were underlined were to be regarded.

Mr Smuts then continued to set out the amendments to Clause 4, as set out in the documents.

He added that originally the amendment of the Long Title was not previously set out, and he noted that the phrase “so as to substitute the definition of ‘appointing body’ “ was to be omitted.

Mr Kolweni said that he was not clear on this point.

Mr Smuts explained that the Long Title needed to be rewritten. It had originally read : “To amend the Broadcasting Act, 1999, so as to substitute the definition of “appointing body”. However, the last phrase was no longer necessary. He suggested that the Committee considered deleting those words from the Long Title.

The Chairperson asked whether the correct wording for the Long Title could be effected immediately.

Ms Adhikarie asked whether the only changes that the Committee needed to see on a new draft would be the changes to the Long Title, and this was confirmed by the Chairperson.

Mr Kolweni was concerned about the time factor.

The Legal Advisers then redrafted the changes during a short recess.

On resumption of the meeting, all Members received a copy of the new draft.

The Chairperson read out the Motion of Desirability, and Members adopted this Motion.

The Chairperson then took the Members through the latest amendments.

Members agreed to the duly amended Clauses 1, 2 and 3.

Ms Terblanche objected to Clause 4 with amendments, but the remainder of Members were happy with this Clause.

The Chairperson noted the objection.

Clause 5 was unanimously agreed to, with amendments.

The Chairperson noted that the Short Title would remain the same.

 Mr Smuts noted the amendment to the Long Title.

Ms Terblanche said that she disagreed that the National Assembly should have the power to pass a resolution without first holding a proper inquiry and this was the reason for her objection.

The Chairperson said that the objection was noted.

She then moved on to read the report, which noted that the Committee had agreed to the Bill, with the proposed amendments, and noted that the Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill must be changed in accordance with the proposed amendments.

Ms Terblanche again reiterated her objection to the Bill.

The Chairperson noted that this had already been stated and noted.

Members then moved, seconded and adopted the Bill. 

The meeting was then adjourned.

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