Implications of ICASA's new local content rules
An area of difficulty in the rules may be where community radio is concerned. Some community stations may have difficulty in complying with the new 40% South African music quota. Special interest cultural and religious stations, catering for highly niched markets may find it difficult to find sufficient local music for their communities. However, the regulations will provide for the Authority to lower the minimum quota, if a broadcaster can show that it is unable to meet the South African content requirements within its format.
In developing the new rules, the Authority appears to have heeded some of the recommendations from the NAB and other industry stakeholders. The Authority will, for instance, allow radio broadcasters to count their on-air contributions to South African music - such as interviews with musicians and coverage of live music - to count towards compliance with the quota. The Authority has also announced that it will establish a South African music industry forum which will, amongst others, monitor the recording industry's production of South African music and liaise with government ministries and other bodies about issues which impact dramatically on the radio broadcasting sector.
On the television side, the Authority has also introduced a forum to examine broadcasters' commissioning procedures. The Authority states in its position paper that it is reluctant to regulate commissioning procedures but will rather look at ideas such as introducing a fair commissioning practices code.
The new rules also provide for a weighting system for television that favours "neglected and / or expensive genres of programming". In measuring the quota a feature film will thus count more than a soap opera. Similarly, broadcasters can earn extra points towards meeting the quota through screening arts programming and children?s drama.
The Authority will also provide incentives for the production of programmes by companies based in provinces other than Gauteng and the Western Cape. The airing of productions made by independent production companies controlled by historically disadvantaged persons will be similarly rewarded.