Cape Town - Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Wednesday said she has given the SABC until June to submit a plan on how it will take advantage of the broadcast digital migration.
Tabling the R2.7bn budget for her department, Ntshavheni said they remained concerned about the focus of the SABC regarding taking advantage of technological advances to drive its competitiveness and sustainability.
“The SABC remains stuck in the past in an era where technology advances have changed how viewers consume media content and the predominantly youth population demand compelling and informative content,” she said.
She also said the traditional television set was something from the past and viewers now consumed content on the go, and wanted to watch and hear themselves or their peers adding value to their development.
“We have given the board and the management of SABC until June 30 to submit a plan on how the public broadcaster is going to commercialise and monetise opportunities available through the broadcast digital migration.
“The SABC has also been directed on prioritisation and promotion of local content in its programme acquisition.”
Ntshavheni also said the department was continuing to advance policy and ministerial intervention that supported the competitiveness of the public broadcaster.
“To this end and through the Minister of Finance, we secured Public Finance Management Act exemption for the SABC and we continue to work with the Minister of Finance on TV licence fee waivers.”
She said they were finalising a draft South African Broadcasting Corporation SOC Ltd Bill for cabinet approval before submission to Parliament.
“The draft Bill positions the SABC as a multimedia organisation capable of offering services across all platforms.”
According to Ntshavheni, allocation to Icasa was R760m, Film and Publication Board R402m, National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa R102m, Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa R86m, Universal Service and Access Fund R66m, the SABC Africa Channel R76m, the SABC R133m, and SAPO R519m.
Ntshavheni said the reason no budget transfer was made to Sentec was due to 100% digital network coverage and satisfaction with all broadcasting digital migration policy conditions and regulatory requirements.
“We are working towards concluding the analogue switch-off by 30 June 2022. This after the Gauteng High Court ruled in support of the conclusion of the programme but extended the time for the minister to complete the installation of set-up boxes for qualifying households who applied for government support.”
Deputy Minister Phily Mapulane said SAPO had over the years experienced significant revenue decline as a result of changing market conditions, exacerbated by rapid technological advances.
Mapulane said the Post Office had been struggling to position itself in line with the changed market conditions.
He said since he and Ntshavheni joined the department, they were seized to help the entity reposition itself and efforts had culminated in a Post Office of Tomorrow Strategy.
The strategy will ensure that the SAPO provides diversified and expanded service as a logistics platform for e-commerce.
“We will digitise the Post Office to be a dedicated and designated authentication authority that fulfils its role as a national trust centre in the age of digital identity and services.
“We will transform the Post Office, especially in rural areas, to be a digital hub to serve communities as well as a platform for unemployed youth and potential entrepreneurs.”
Mapulane said the government was committed to turn around SAPO to be financially sustainable and re-engineer its product and service portfolio.
“We are engaging the National Treasury on the required recapitalisation of the entity,” he added.