SA govt: Netflix, Showmax content must be 30% local

The proposal is contained in the department’s white paper on Audio and Audio visual Content Services policy framework which is currently open for public comment.

SA govt: Netflix, Showmax content must be 30% local

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies presented its proposal that streaming services will be subjected to paying licence fees, as well as that 30% of its content shown in South Africa must be local, on Wednesday 25 November to Parliament.

The public comment process which was initially due to end on 30 October, has been extended to 15 February 2021.

WHITE PAPER INCLUDES ONLINE BROADCASTING SERVICES

The proposal is contained in the department’s white paper on Audio and Audio visual Content Services policy framework which is currently open for public comment.

The white paper broadens the definition of a broadcasting service to include “online broadcasting services”. This means streaming services, such as Netflix, Showmax, Amazon Prime and Apple+, will be subjected to paying licensing fees.

PROPOSAL MET WITH OPPOSITION

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams proposal in October that Netflix and MultiChoice collect broadcast licence fees from their users and paid to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was met by a public outcry.

The SABC suffered a loss of more than half-a-billion rand in the past year.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was opposed to any efforts that would require any additional payment of TV licence fees as the public has already had to suffer the consequences of the billions in bailouts to the SABC via the public purse.

“The SABC must find creative ways to self-sustain, and break even without requiring the public to fork out any more money,” the DA said in a recent statement.

ICASA TO MONITOR STREAMING SERVICES

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) will be responsible for determining the fees and holding streaming services to account which fail to comply.

A team who will work closely with South African banks, will be set up to monitor and stop subscription payments to non-compliant service providers.

30% OF CONTENT NEEDS TO BE PRODUCED LOCALLY

The Communications Department chief director of broadcasting policy Collin Mashile said:

“These video-on-demand subscription services, when they come and operate in South Africa, everything that they show to South Africans in terms of their catalogue…30% of that catalogue must include South African content. In every country the most popular shows remain the local shows.”

CHALLENGES FACING REGULATORY PROPOSALS

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said government’s drive to collect licence payments from international services which will inevitably be paid by the local viewer, will end in fruitless litigation.

“This ‘China-esque censorship bureau’ stands in stark violation to the right of all South Africans to a free flow of information and would not meet the constitutional standard of the limitation of this right by government,” Van Damme said.

PUBLIC COMMENT PROCESS

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies confirmed to the Portfolio Committee on Communications that it had already received 20,000 comments about its proposals.

It was announced that the public comment process, which was initially due to end on 30 October, had been extended to 15 February 2021. Comments about the draft white paper can be mailed to aacs@dtps.gov.za

Source : The South African More