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06 September 2010

SOS News ICASA denies CTV right to broadcast, Right2know Campaign launched, updates on the SABC, SOS's Constitutional Hill Event

Dear All

A huge amount of things happening as always!

Firstly, I want to highlight the huge problems Cape TV is having. It seems ICASA has denied CTV a license to broadcast. Please see press statement below. As SOS we are planning to meet with ICASA and this issue will certainly be high on our agenda. Also, if you look at the statement Capetonians are requested to send letters of support for the station to ICASA Chair, Dr. Steve Mncube. See details below. I will keep you updated re: all developments.

Secondly, I am sure that most of you are now aware of the powerful Right2Know Campaign. The Campaign is aimed at highlighting the problems with the "Protection of Information"/ "Secrecy Bill". The Campaign has been launched in Cape Town and will be launched soon in Jhb. My understanding is that the launch date is 15 September. My opinion is that SOS should formally sign onto the campaign. The Bill fundamentally affects investigative journalism. What do people think? The campaign website is www.rtk.org.za. Please find excellent M&G article attached on the campaign.
On the more macro front SOS has been calling for the corporate governance breaches at the SABC to be decisively dealt with. Parliament needs to urgently re-convene its Parliamentary hearings into the issues of SABC governance and the turn-around strategy. The Committee must hold the hearing in the open - there is therefore no need to delay the hearing.
Finally, please do remember to come to our SOS/ Cosatu/ Constitutional Hill event on Tuesday 7th September starting at 6:30pm. We are looking at "The SABC crisis - finding lasting solutions". Also, we are very happy to announce that the Chair of the ICASA Council, Dr Steve Mncube has agreed to come and speak. Hope to see you all there.

Best
Kate

Cape Town TV Press Release by the M&G article:

2 September 2010

ICASA denies CTV right to broadcast

Cape Town TV (CTV), has been running for the past two years on temporary (one-year) broadcast licenses. Following the example of Soweto TV, which was granted a seven-year class license earlier this year, CTV also applied for a class license to enable it to continue broadcasting on a more sustainable basis.

In discussions with senior ICASA personnel, CTV was given assurances that its license application would be considered. However on receipt of CTV’s application, ICASA refused to consider it on the grounds that the Authority had instituted a moratorium on the granting of broadcast licenses to community television initiatives.

The reason for the moratorium was that there is a scarcity of available radio frequency spectrum and that this situation will only be altered with the advent of digital broadcasting, which will free up some of this spectrum.

But in terms of frequency issues, ICASA’s Technology and Engineering Department has established a plan for CTV. So there appears to be no good reason why ICASA should refuse CTV a license based on frequency issues, which the moratorium was expressly designed to address.

There even appears to be confusion within ICASA on this matter. Some ICASA personnel were under the impression that the moratorium would not apply to existing licensees, while others believed that no further licenses would be granted to any community TV applicants.

Even after the moratorium was instituted, broadcasting licenses have been granted to other community television initiatives. It is CTV’s belief that this constitutes an unfair practice, which renders the moratorium legally invalid.

In terms of the Electronic Communications Act, if ICASA does not refuse a class license on particular grounds specified in the Act within 60 days of the application being received, then the license is considered to be automatically granted. Based on this fact, CTV believes that it has fulfilled the necessary requirements and thus has a seven-year class license.

CTV has approached ICASA’s Council to review the decision, and hopes that a positive outcome will be forthcoming, to avoid the possibility of CTV being taken off air.

An aggravating factor that continues to plague CTV, along with all other community broadcasters, is the fact that it is forced to pay the same signal distribution tariffs as commercial and public service broadcasters. This is despite the non-profit status and developmental mandate of community broadcasters.

This situation persists because ICASA has not carried out an inquiry into transmission tariffs levied by the national signal distributor, Sentech, as it was mandated to do by the Broadcasting Act of 1999. Community broadcasters continue to bear the burden of this omission.

CTV has managed to pay about R700 000 to Sentech for signal distribution costs over the past two years, which is an achievement for a non-profit broadcaster in the early stages of development. But the channel is still in arrears and is consequently under threat of disconnection for this reason.

Cape Town’s community television channel is a thriving and sustainable initiative that is often held up as a model for community television in South Africa. The channel has been on air for two years now and broadcasts 24 hours a day to a monthly audience of 1.3 million people. CTV’s turnover has doubled for the past two years in a row.

CTV is calling on Capetonians to express their endorsement for the channel by emailing letters of support to the chairperson of ICASA, Dr. Stephen Sipho Mncube, at chairperson@icasa.org.za.

ENDS

For further information contact CTV Station Manager Karen Thorne on Karen@capetowntv.org, or telephone 021 447 8377.

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