The priorities for expenditure over the period are:
- strengthening entity oversight,
- developing a responsive communications policy and regulatory framework, and
- transforming the communications sector through digital broadcasting.
___[9 May 2018] Report of the Portfolio Committee on Communications – Budget Vote 3: Communications
___[17 April 2018] Presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Communications: Department of Communications Strategic Plan 2018.19 – 2020.21
___[28 February 2018] The Estimate of National Expenditure for the Department for the period 2018/19 – 2020/21 reveals that the Department will continue to play a leading role in trying to sort out digital migration.
The ENE for the Department reveals that:
- The number of staff is expected to increase by 22 over the medium term, mainly to provide capacity for the digital terrestrial television project, the implementation of communications policies such as the media transformation and diversity policy and the audiovisual and digital content policy.
- Cabinet has approved budget reductions of R36.3 million in 2018/19, R53.5 million in 2019/20 and R57.1 million in 2020/21, particularly on transfers to public entities.
There is growing speculation that future rationalisation of Cabinet will lead to the Department of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services being merged, effectively reversing the disastrous split engineered by the previous President.
___[15 October 2016] Department of Communications Annual Report 2015/2016 & Auditor General briefing on DoC Perfomance 2015/16
___[20 April 2016] Department of Communications Strategic Plan 2015.16 – 2019.20
___[8 August 2015] Annual Performance Plan 2015/16 – 2017/18 & Strategic Plan Medium-Term Period 2015/16 – 2019/20
___[1 June 2015] The Portfolio Committee on Communications debated and then adopted its report on the Budget Vote of the Department of Communications on 12 May 2015.
The Report has the following text regarding ICASA:
ICASA can be commended for reducing its strategic goals from eight (8) to three (3). These realigned strategic priorities are (i) Promote effective competition; (ii) Promote digital agenda; and (iii) Improve stakeholder and consumer experience. This according to ICASA, enables the entity to focus on its core mandate. Important to note is the licensing of free to air services and additional commercial sound broadcasters in the secondary market. The Department seeks to ensure that ICASA conducts market studies to support the business case to license more broadcasting services in the country. Local content is one area which has been prioritised.
With regard to the financials, 64.4 per cent of ICASA budget goes towards compensation of employees. A trend which continues for the remainder of the MTEF period. The view of the Department is that more resources need to be allocated to the monitoring and compliance function of ICASA. This will ensure effectiveness of ICASA in discharging its mandate. ICASA must look closer to the need to ensure effective management of the radio frequency spectrum. A business case must be developed in this regard.
And there is an indication that a further ICASA Amendment Bill may be on the way:
On the legislative front, the Department will undergo a process that will enable the Committee to amend the (i) Broadcasting Amendment Bill; (ii) ICASA Amendment Bill, (iii) MDDA Amendment Bill; and (vi) Film and Publications Amendment Bill. In addition, the Department will also introduce the Brand South Africa Bill.
___[1 June 2015] The Minister of Communications delivered her Budget Vote Speech on 20 May 2015.
The broadcasting digital migration programme remain a flagship of the Department. Utilising our collective efforts and wisdom, we will do all we can to ensure that the migration process commence during the second quarter of this financial year. We therefore make a call to all stakeholders to work together with us to realise this objective. We are mindful of the fact that the country will not meet the 17 June 2015 analogue switch off date as set by the International Telecommunications Union. We are ready to consult with Cabinet on the digital signal switch-on date.
National Communications Policy
The Department is poised to deliver on its policy mandate. In this regard, we have prioritised the finalisation of the overarching national communications policy during this financial year. The primary objective of the policy is to ensure that communication across the three spheres of Government is well co-ordinated, effectively managed and responsive to the diverse information needs of the public.
During this financial year we will finalise the review of the Broadcasting Policy. We have since received comments from the industry on the areas we are looking at. We will during the third quarter release a discussion document to further solicit inputs from the general public.
Online content regulation
As more people, especially children access digital content online, challenges arise. We have prioritised the development and adoption of the Online Content Regulations Policy. Consultations on this Policy are currently underway. The policy aims to create a framework in relation to online content distribution in the country. Once adopted the policy will bring about a comprehensive and fundamental transformation for online content regulation in the country. We call upon all interested parties to work with the Film and Publication Board to ensure that this policy is finalised in order to properly classify digital content and ensure that children are sufficiently protected from exposure to disturbing and harmful content. We anticipate that this policy will serve before Cabinet in the third quarter of this financial year.
Audio-Visual Content Development Strategy
There is a saying that “in the Broadcasting Sector Content is King”. In line with this saying and the need to prepare the broadcasting sector for the Digital Terrestrial Television, we will during this financial finalise the Audio Visual Content Development Strategy. The strategy amongst others proposes the establishment of content generation hubs in rural provinces. We will finalise the strategy during the second quarter of this financial year.
We will continue to work towards strengthening the capacity of our Regulator to deliver on its mandate. ICASA has now streamlined its strategic goals to four from the eight. This is a sign of a regulator which is focused on its mandate. An amount of R393. 6 million has been allocated to ICASA during the financial year 2015/16. This amount will be used amongst others to ensure that local content regulations are finalised and implementation of an efficient radio frequency spectrum management system is concluded.
Film and Publications Board
The FPB performs an important and critical function of regulating the production, possession and distribution of films, games and publications, including the protection of children against harmful online content. In this regard, R82. 4 million has been allocated to the FPB during the 2015/16 financial year. The money will be used amongst others to increase the entity’s visibility through the implementation of cyber safe outreach programme to protect children against harmful content.
___[2 March 2015] National Treasury has published Estimates of National Expenditure for the Department of Communications for the 2015/16 financial year.