Opening address by Adv. Dimakatso Qocha at the DSB public hearings

Ladies and gentlemen

I would like to welcome you all to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and the public hearings on the Discussion Document on Digital Sound Broadcasting Services. As you would know, these public hearings will take place from today, 11 July 2018 until Friday, 13 July 2018.

My name is Adv. Dimakatso Qocha and I am the delegated Councillor to chair the Council Committee of Digital Sound Broadcasting Services together with my Deputy Councillor Peter Zimri. I am working closely with the team in front of you and they are:

    1. Ndumiso Dana
    2. Khomotso Motsepe
    3. Thabo Ndhlovu
    4. Pieterse
    5. Refiloe Motsoeneng
    6. Maano Dzebu
    7. Mpho Mgwebi
    8. Resheditswe Kgomo
    9. Lefa Mokoena
    10. Lumkile Qabaka
    11. Songezo Mata
    12. Doreen Mojela
    13. Resemate Maswanganye

    Ladies and gentlemen

    On 29 March 2018, ICASA published a Discussion Document on Digital Sound Broadcasting (DSB) in Government Gazette No. 41534 (Notice 670) published in terms of Section 4B of the ICASA Act.

    The purpose of the inquiry is:  

    1. to examine the prospects of implementing Digital Sound Broadcasting services in South Africa; and

    2.      to examine the manner in which the implementation of DSB services can improve spectrum efficiency and management.

    In this Notice, ICASA invited all interested parties to submit written representations on the Discussion Document and to make such submissions within 45 working days from the date of publication in the government gazette. We received 23 written representations in this regard, 21 of which expressed their interest in making oral submissions at these public hearings and we will be engaging them in the next three days.

    We have been working collaboratively with the department of communications in formulating its policy directive, and we are encouraged to note that the Minister will be publishing a DSB policy directive in the near future. We hope to engage the PMO of the department to also find ways of working together on spectrum issues.

    The schedule of the public hearings has been slightly amended following the withdrawal of the presentation by Capricorn Concepts, while Sentech has requested that it be accommodated on Friday, 13 July 2018.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the normal analogue Frequency Modulation (FM) and Amplified Modulation (AM) is prone to interference usually caused by signals bouncing off walls, buildings, etc. However, digital radio receivers have built-in technology that cleans and filters transmission thereby making interference almost non-existent.

    Digital sound broadcasting further differs from traditional analogue broadcasting service in that, digital signals can be transmitted successfully at lower transmitter power; easy to tune in. Instead of fiddling with the dial to find your favourite radio station, listeners simply choose a station by name from a menu, and automatically locking on to the required frequency without struggle.

    The introduction of digital broadcasting occurs within the context of convergence of technologies and the Fourth industrial revolution. It is good for the country and its citizens and brings with it change and new ways of radio broadcasting and listening. Digital broadcasting offers more efficient use of the radio frequency spectrum, high quality audio services, reduced transmission costs and of course the potential to simulcast in multiple languages, giving listeners more choice and better quality.

    It is against this background that we are engaging in this process, to prepare ourselves for the future of broadcasting, and indeed to have a forward-looking view of the space which we regulate. It is therefore our view that with so many ever-expanding options, digital broadcasting will truly assist in closing the door on analogue broadcasting at some point.

    We therefore expect these public hearings to provide additional information or clarify on certain issues raised by stakeholders in their respective submissions.

    In terms of the process in the next three days, we will allow presenters to make their oral presentations for 30 minutes, subsequent to which the panel members will ask questions of clarity.

    The panel may request the presenters to provide additional information that the Authority may deem necessary to assist in this process, within seven (7) working days of the request. We also encourage members of the public to pose questions to presenters when given an opportunity to do so during the hearings.  Some writing sheets will be availed for purposes of writing the questions.

    I would like to urge the presenters and the public here today to keep to their allocated time and stick to the points relevant to the topic of the day. We would also like to thank presenters for heeding our request to provide their presentations ahead of time. Those that have not provided their presentations are urged to either email them or provide them on a memory stick to avoid any delays.

    In closing, I would like to request that we put our phones on silent to avoid interference with the sound recording. We are now ready to commence with the public hearings and will hand over to the presenter to introduce your team and to continue with your presentation.

    Thank you so much!!!

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