South Africa’s government is contemplating opening up the country’s broadcasting rules.
The idea is to permit foreign ownership – or at least shareholdings – in the nation’s broadcasting services.
The government’s draft policy framework White Paper covers audio as well as audio-visual services. South Africa’s Department of Communications & Digital Technologies says that foreign ownership rules could rise for the current 20 per cent to 49 per cent.
The suggestion goes further and talks about totally relaxing these limits for investors from other Africa Union nations.
The White Paper says that cross-media ownership rules should also be relaxed. “The cross-media ownership rules, including the distinction between AM and FM licences … are obsolete and need removed,” states the document.
“In an environment where markets are disrupted by technology developments, where print media companies are no longer the largest media companies, and with the proliferation of on-demand content services, this proposed policy intervention will allow consolidation and the creation of synergies by various firms,” says the White Paper.
The document proposes handing over anti-competitive behaviour supervision to the country’s Competition Commission while regulator ICASA ensures that the “South Africaness” of content is complied with.