The issuing of new community television licences is on hold until the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting is
complete, the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) said on Thursday.
Existing licences would also only be renewed for one year at a time, Icasa said.
This followed a report in Business Day expressing concern over difficulties community television operators faced over their
In a statement, Icasa said that at present, it had licensed community television services in Soweto, Tshwane, Cape Town,
Bojanala (Rustenburg) District, Nelson Mandela Metro (Port Elizabeth) and Richard's Bay.
These would be allowed to either reapply or renew licences when they expired, as a way of protecting community investments in the services.
one new initiative in Rustenburg was under consideration, pending the submission of additional information.
"However, given the scarcity of frequency spectrum due to the migration of existing broadcasting from analogue to digital, the
authority will not receive and consider any new registrations or applications from any community or entity," it said.
It would undertake a review of the community television licensing framework to address the following issues:
- the identification of temporary frequencies to accommodate community television during the digital migration process;
- the inclusion of community television in the digital broadcasting environment, which would include setting aside dedicated multiplexes for community broadcasting;
- a possible review of the current definition of class licences, which confined community television to local and district municipalities;
- an investigation into the feasibility of extending the geographic scope of community television to provide wide coverage
to ensure that community television services, across the country, were sustainable; and
- where necessary, the possible amendment of relevant sections in the Electronic Communications Act.
South Africa has joined a global move to migrate to digital broadcasting by 2015.
One of the reasons for using digital instead of analogue is that more users would be able to broadcast.