25 September 2017

South Africa: Minister Ayanda Dlodlo - SADC-Saba Broadcasting Forum

press release

Opening remarks by Minister Ayanda Dlodlo during the SADC-SABA Broadcasting Forum: 25-29 September 2017

Theme: "Strategies for Stimulating Local Content Production and Creating an Enabling Environment for Sustainable Telling of Africa's Story."

Programme Director,

SABA Board members,

Senior Government Officials,

SADC Member States,

Botswana,

Lesotho,

Malawi,

Mozambique,

Namibia,

Swaziland,

Tanzania,

Zambia,

Zimbabwe,

CRASA,

ICASA,

Public Broadcasters,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The advent of the digital broadcasting is the reality that all countries in the world are faced with and SADC is no exception. According to an ITU 2016 report, 66 countries in the world have completed Digital Migration whilst 66 were ongoing, 61 unknown and 14 had not started.

In relation to SADC implementation, I have been briefed that to date we now have Member States in the region that have fully migrated.

Four (4) the Member States namely; Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia and the United Republic of Tanzania have fully migrated while some Member States including South Africa and Zambia have their DTT networks in operational mode.

Although most Member States have not completed their migration, it is comforting to learn that all SADC Member States;

have established a National Task Force/Committee;

have a National DTT Policy in place;

have enacted DTT regulations;

have Consumer Awareness programs in place

These structural elements are essential in establishing a sound framework for the implementation of the migration programme. This work was made possible largely by the establishment of the SADC Digital Migration Project Office, which worked tirelessly in assisting the Member States on implementing the programs. We thank the SADC Office for this invaluable intervention and contribution.

We recognise that there are still common challenges faced by the SABC Member States with regards to funding, network rollout and the availability of Set Top Boxes. We also recognise that Member States missed the ITU transition date of June 2015. It is our collective responsibility to assist each and share experiences wherever possible in realising this common goal for the benefit of the region.

Experiences on DTT and the migration process have revealed that one of the major draw cards for the uptake of digital migration is access to compelling content. SADC Ministers had discussed the need to focus on an integrated approach to address content demands as a result of digital migration.

We realise the impact and the effect of DTT to stimulate demand for content. Member States should embrace strategies to promote the production and consumption of local content to ensure an enabling environment for sustainable telling of Africa's own stories.

The developments on the establishment of the regional SADC TV Bouquet are therefore encouraging.

SADC must expedite the conclusion of the Business and Regulatory Framework for the SADC TV Bouquet, the hosting of the Content Aggregator for SADC TV Bouquet and the Stimulation Local Content in support of the SADC TV Bouquet. These matters were dealt with extensively in the recent SADC ICT Ministerial Meeting held on 4 to 7 September 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

SADC must also expedite the introduction of Digital Sound Broadcasting in the region. We all understand the importance of radio as a major vehicle for information dissemination for our communities. The congestion of the analogue FM space is a common problem that can be alleviated by the introduction of Digital Sound Broadcasting. Digital Sound Broadcasting will go a long way in addressing the Community Radio sector. I am encouraged by the advances in the development of a proposed Digital Sound Policy and Regulatory Framework for SADC. I am also encouraged to learn that some countries including South Africa have concluded successful trials on the main technology standards recommended by SADC and the ATU on Digital Sound. I urge all Member States to follow suit and fast-track the work towards the introduction of Digital Sound Broadcasting.

Ladies and gentlemen, I trust the deliberations here will bring us closer to realising an SADC integrated approach on issues relating to Broadcasting and consequently enhancing appeal to our people.

With those words, I wish you fruitful discussions.

Issued by: Department of Communications

South Africa

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