Speech Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana Radio Days Africa Conference
Lynn Mansfield (Southern African Digital Broadcasting Association),
Jacqueline Bierhorst (Digital Radio NL),
Jørn Jensen (NRK) and
Darren Willsher (WorldDAB)
I am pleased to be part of this very important platform.
I say this platform is important not to flatter you but because the South African Broadcasting system is at a critical point. Both from the perspective of infrastructure and policy.
On the hand we are pulling out all the stops to resuscitate the National Broadcaster and on the one hand we are working around the clock to ensure that we move with speed to ensure that there is policy certainty in the commercial sector, and also we trying to ensure that we meet our deadlines in order for to us comply with the International standards required for broadcasting.
So, let me be the first to admit that our hands are full, as such government engaging in platforms such as these, enables to find each other quickly on policy aspirations and we get to learn from other countries what their experiences have been in terms of infrastructure roll out.
Radio remains an important part of South Africa’s cultural, social and economic landscape. Every day approximately 76% of the adult population tune into the radio.
Although Radio’s popularity as measured by its reach and audience hours – which has been relatively stable over recent years - radio is changing. The radio industry is in the midst of a significant period of transformation driven by a shift in technology to digital and by changes in the way listeners are consuming music and other content.
Over the past two years or so the DAB+ discussion has featured quite extensively in gatherings like these. Correctly so, DAB+ is a game changer, it provides our citizens with better quality radio, and from a government perspective, it helps us broadcast important emergency messages on all channels simultaneously.
From the perspective of the consumer, DAB gives listeners access to a broader selection of channels from commercial broadcasters and the SABC. More channels inevitably mean more competition to create the best possible radio content, benefiting listeners.
During the trial period, we have seen how radio has been made more accessible for instance distance is no longer a factor. The vast and complicated landscapes of South Africa are no longer a limitation for broadcasters. The benefits of digital radio are well known and I need not sell them to you here.
Of vital importance to us is how will government roll this out and most importantly will we comply with our deadlines. Digital Transformation in broadcasting is an enabler for economic growth, it the cornerstone of future economies.
As I have mentioned before there is no way one can talk about the future economy without talking about digital transformation, sectors, companies and workers.
Therefore digitization cannot be considered just for the sake of it, but it must be considered as a means of making life better for businesses, citizens and society.
I am grateful to broadcasters, manufacturers and other stakeholders across the radio sector and other industries for the support given to ICASA and Sentech during the trial period.
The next phase of our journey may require all the representatives present here today to contribute with their time and expertise and support the work of, Government, on the rollout of Technology and Equipment, preparing the market, assist with the Coverage and Spectrum Planning and join Government Radio Policy task groups.
The needs of listeners drive all of our actions on digital radio and I would like to encourage consumers to hold and enrich our current policies to help us assist vulnerable groups in society. In essence, I am saying Digital Radio should help us answer such questions.
Radio Broadcasters also need to deal with the issue of fake news, the advent of technology should strengthen journalism not weaken it.
With that said ladies and gentlemen government will be working closely with anyone who is willing to lend a hand. A speedy and sound implementation of policy requires an integrated approach from everyone in society.
I look forward to your contributions to ICASA’s discussion paper on Digital Audio Broadcasting. Without your voice, we are poorer, without your sound advice, we cannot connect societies, we cannot build South Africa in the image of a United but diverse society.
Thank you for this invitation I eagerly look forward to listening to more podcasts on your deliberations here today and beyond.