The SABC has called for an inquiry to determine licence conditions and tariff structure for digital sound broadcasting (DSB) services.
“The Authority must conduct an inquiry to determine the licence conditions, obligations, and tariff structure for signal distribution including the regulatory regime for multi-channel distribution services and convergence,” the public broadcaster said in a submission to ICASA.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) will be holding (virtual) public hearings on the draft DSB Regulations, 2020 on 20 and 21 January 2021.
On 13 November 2020, the Authority published a Draft DSB Regulations 1, and the deadline for written representations thereon was 29 December 2020, which was subsequently extended by notice to 8 January 2021.
By the closing date, the Authority had received fifteen written submissions from stakeholders such as Primedia. In short, ICASA supports the introduction of DSB in South Africa.
“At the moment, no such tariff structure has been developed either for DSB, AM/FM or for any broadcasting service,” the SABC said.
“It is likely that this situation can be subjected to abuse by one party against the other.”
In its submission to ICASA, the SABC argued that it has already recommended during the discussion document phase of the public process that the regulator should first licence DSB services to existing broadcasters.
The broadcaster further argued that new players in the DSB space might only be permitted once ICASA conducts market research and the industry’s financial viability study. However, market research is required to determine the license-freeze period.
It added that it is more concerned with the licencing regime of DSB services.
“The DAB+ (Digital Audio Broadcast) frequency allotment plan needs to be relooked. The provision of 2 frequency channels per province seems inadequate,” the SABC said.
“Based on a mixture of SFN (single frequency network) and MFN (multiple frequency network), the frequency plan needs to be reworked, and more frequencies should be reserved for Mux (Multiplex) operations.”