NAB celebrates 30 years of self-regulation while looking to the future of the broadcasting industry
The NAB celebrated 30 years of its existence – and of self-regulation through the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) – on 6 October 2023, in Johannesburg with its members and various stakeholders.
A range of local and international speakers participated in the event, sharing their thoughts on the last three decades of broadcasting in South Africa as well as globally, and the future of this dynamic sector.
The international speakers that participated virtually in the celebrations included the African Telecommunications Union Secretary-General John Omo, Christian Schalt (Chief Digital Officer, RTL Radio Germany), Larry Rosin (President, Edison Research), Tammy Greenberg (Senior Vice-President, RAB-USA) and Emily Davidson (Head of Policy & Public Affairs, Channel 4 UK).
The day’s programme was opened by the NAB Chairperson, Thabo Makenete, and included three panel discussions that focused on the achievements of the sector and the future of broadcasting.
BCCSA Chairperson, Dr. Sunette Lötter, shared with the audience just how far industry self-regulation has come since 1993 and commended the BCCSA for its contribution to broadcasting.
“The fact that the BCCSA has stood the test of time proves that it has not only gained the trust of people, but it also meets the real needs of society,” she said.
Justice Albie Sachs wished the NAB well on its 30th anniversary. He reflected on the role of broadcasting from the apartheid era to its importance in our democracy today, with broadcasting giving South Africans a platform to express themselves.
“Radio is everywhere. It’s in the car and when you’re shopping you hear it. It is the sound of South Africa. It reaches millions of people; there’s storytelling on the radio,” said Sachs. “Community radio in South Africa is so well-developed. It [radio] was so important when three-quarters of the nation were silenced,” he added.
Sachs concluded by saying that South Africa is not exactly a fair or safe society, but it is an open one and that the media play an enormous role in terms of this openness.
Guest Speaker, James Cridland, a Radio Futurologist based in Australia, said he believed that the medium has the power to bring people together, even amidst the emergence of new digital platforms. “Radio has a unique power. When I listen to the radio, I listen to people with common interests to me and because radio isn’t ultra-personalised, like Google or Facebook can be, it can help people see both sides of the argument. It can help people discover stories they otherwise were unaware of. It helps connect people,” said Cridland.
The NAB’s Executive Director, Nadia Bulbulia, closed the programme and thanked all who were in attendance. Bulbulia noted that the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act was passed exactly thirty years ago in October 1993, and that the NAB choosing this month to mark its 30th milestone was no coincidence.
“The Independent Broadcasting Authority (the predecessor to ICASA), was established to “free the airwaves” and foster the development of a three-tiered broadcasting system - with community radio being the first tier of licences to be issued even before South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994,” she said.
Bulbulia added that the broadcasting sector should dedicate efforts to mentoring the next generation of policy specialists, regulators and content creators who will take the industry forward into the next thirty years.