Icasa faces firing squad

2009-08-29 08:32

PRESSURE is mounting on the beleaguered Independent Communications

Authority of SA (Icasa) to review its “flawed” regulations on digital

migration.

A National African Federated Chamber of

Commerce-led (Nafcoc) consortium this week filed court papers against

the authority one week after e.tv did the same.

The Nafcoc

consortium first raised their concerns about the regulations a month

ago when it questioned the authority’s decision to allocate four

additional digital channels to subscription channel, M-Net.

The challenge could potentially delay the implementation of Digital Terrestrial TV (DTT) in the country.

“We

believe that all stakeholders are committed to the smooth roll-out of

DTT and will work together to address any delays which may be caused by

the recent legal actions on the DTT regulations,” said Lara Kantor,

chairperson of the Digital Dzonga Advisory Council. Dzonga has been

appointed by the communications department to oversee the DTT migration

process.

At the heart of the consortium’s complaint is the

charge of a “deeply flawed process” in the finalisation of the DTT

regulations. The consortium claims it is being left out of the

licensing processes because Icasa is allowing incumbent, M-Net, to

maintain its monopoly in the market.

In a 37-page founding

affidavit, the Nafcoc broadcasting consortium calls on the South

Gauteng High Court to review and set aside the authority’s decision to

approve and publish the DTT regulations. According to the affidavit,

the consortium is preparing an application for a broadcasting licence

on the digital platform.

e.tv’s application seeks to interdict and restrain

and/or suspend the implementation of the regulations. Vasili Vass, e.tv

general manager for communications, said the station wanted to ensure

that “a strong, fair and properly considered regulatory framework” was

put in place for the DTT migration.

Icasa councillor Robert

Nkuna said the authority had received the consortium’s papers.

“However, we have our own internal discussions regarding differences

and areas requiring clarification on DTT.”

He said there might be some amendments made to the regulations for purposes of clarity.

“We

do not need a lengthy court process for things that can be resolved.

What is needed is to allow for an amendment process to take place, to

engage all stakeholders and to come to a conclusion,” Nkuna said.

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