The State of the Nation Address 2013 – SOS Calls for ICT to be a Key Focus Area

Published On February 14, 2013 | By SOSAdmin | Media / Press Release, News

STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS 2013 – SOS CALLS FOR ICT TO BE A KEY FOCUS AREA

Tonight President Zuma will be giving his State of the Nation address. This will set the framework and priorities for South Africa’s development in 2013.

Last year, in his State of the Nation Address, the President did not highlight ICT, broadcasting and government’s plans for Digital Terrestrial Television. Members were disappointed by this critical omission.  Members hope that this year given government’s stated commitment to creating a “knowledge economy” as part of its National Development Plan, ICT will be a key focus.

The Coalition believes that the ICT sector is a not just a critical sector for economic growth but also for the deepening of democracy and the strengthening of citizenship in the country. The Coalition notes that broadcasting, as a key component of ICT, has a particularly important role to play in South Africa’s ongoing democratisation and in citizens educational and culture enrichment. Broadcasting offers the opportunity to create empowered, informed citizens who can make informed decisions about their lives.

The Coalition believes that there are a number of critical issues that need to be addressed in the coming year. We hope the President in his State of the Nation Address will address the following:
• The importance of the ICT policy review process. The Minister of Communications has promised that this process will include a review of all ICT policy, laws and regulations. This will lead to the crafting of a new comprehensive, coherent vision for ICT that will be rolled out as part of a Green and White Paper process leading to amendments of existing legislation and the passing of new laws. The Coalition is campaigning for public, community and local broadcasting content issues to be prioritised. The Coalition notes that the Presidency must ensure the prioritisation of this Review no matter who is leading the Department. (The Coalition notes the devastating impact on ICT development of the constant shifts in leadership in the Ministry.)

• The swift roll out of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). The Coalition notes the many delays on this front. These delays are denying our economy and democracy the digital dividend of more spectrum space being freed up. The Coalition would like the President to commit the country to a set of firm deadlines on rolling out DTT. Further, the Coalition would like to see the President commit the country to an open, inclusive and consultative process in the roll out of this major project.

• The independence, good governance and management of our public broadcaster, the SABC. The SABC remains the most important media institution in the country in terms of its overall size, reach, numbers of channels and stations. There are many rural communities in South Africa that have the SABC as their only source of information. The Coalition would like to see government ensuring that the Corporation is held strongly to account in terms of good governance practices and principles, and that its editorial policies are updated to ensure it follows the principles of courageous, investigative journalism independent of all vested interests. Further, the Coalition would like to see some firm commitments from government, in line with its Manguang resolutions, to the Corporation’s adequate public funding.

• The development of local content. Finally, SOS would like to see government ensuring its backing and support for the nurturing of a rich diverse local content industry that reflects in its composition and its programming the many cultures, languages and communities residing in our country.

Over a number of years the Coalition has developed its own vision document for public broadcasting. We would like the Presidency to consider this in shaping its views on public broadcasting in 2013 and beyond.

The SOS Coalition represents a number of trade union federations including COSATU and FEDUSA, a number of independent unions including BEMAWU and MWASA; independent film and TV production sector organisations including the South African Screen Federation (SASFED); a host of NGOs and CBOs including the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) as well as a number of academics and freedom of expression activists.

 

For more information contact:

Kate Skinner
(082) 926 6404

OR

Sekoetlane Jacob Phamodi
(076) 084-8077

OR

William Bird
(082) 887-1370

 

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