Icasa issues new digital TV regulations
As SA races to beat a fast-approaching deadline of switching off analogue television broadcasts by June 2015, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has published a revised set of draft digital terrestrial television regulations for another round of public consultation in the already long-delayed process.
Those interested in commenting on the amended regulations now have until 30 July to submit written submissions to Icasa, which says that in light of the urgency of finalising the regulations, it has decided it will not hold public hearings and intends producing the final regulations by September.
The authority explains that there are two main changes to the regulations on which it would “particularly like” to hear the views of the public.
It is proposing to use the second mobile digital terrestrial television multiplex as a third digital TV multiplex during the dual-illumination period, when analogue and digital broadcasts will coexist, to accommodate new entrants to the broadcasting industry and to stimulate the uptake of digital services, fostering content and enhancing consumer choice.
This, Icasa explains, is in response to the amended broadcasting digital migration policy of 17 February 2012, in which communications minister Dina Pule directed it to “explore how best to introduce new services and licensees” while ensuring the digital migration process gives priority to incumbent broadcasters.
The policy expressed the minister’s view that the “increased capacity and spectrum availability given the introduction of digital terrestrial television provides an opportunity for the licensing of new pay-television service providers in the short term and new free to air services in the medium to long term”.
“The authority would also like to test using original television content to encourage viewers to acquire set-top boxes and to set minimum requirements for local television content on new digital TV channels during the dual-illumination period,” it says.
“The authority is of the view that the screening of original content during prime time on new digital TV channels is essential to providing the stimulus for viewers to acquire set-top boxes and migrate to the digital platform.”
Icasa is also proposing the formation of a Digital Television Content Advisory Group to advise on the most effective ways of ensuring the supply of digital TV content to encourage consumers to acquire set-top boxes in order to begin viewing digital television services.
The draft regulations and an explanatory note are available on the Icasa website. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media