Icasa sets target for news sports broadcast regulations

Icasa councillor Nomonde Gongxeka-Seopa.
Icasa councillor Nomonde Gongxeka-Seopa.
Image: Nomonde Gongxeka-Seopa/Facebook

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) is targeting the end of September to release the final sports broadcast regulations for 2020.

Icasa wants to amend the sports broadcasting services regulations so that sporting events of national interest receive live or delayed live or delayed coverage on free-to-air television.

Events included in the proposed compulsory category for free-to-air are the Olympic Games‚ Paralympics‚ Fifa World Cup‚ Africa Cup of Nations (men and women)‚ Rugby World Cup‚ ICC Cricket World Cup.

Also‚ International Boxing Federation events‚ national netball‚ the Commonwealth Games and IAAF athletics events where a senior national team or an individual is representing the country.

“We are hoping that as the authority‚ we will be able to publish the final regulations of 2020 by the end of September‚” Icasa councillor Nomonde Gongxeka-Seopa told TimesLIVE.

Last year in May Icasa held public hearings on the draft amendment regulations where the Premier Soccer League (PSL)‚ SA Football Association (Safa)‚ SA Rugby‚ Boxing SA‚ Netball South Africa and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) made presentations.

They were joined by among others by the SA Cricketer’s Association (Saca)‚ SA Football Players Union (Safpu) and broadcasters the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)‚ MultiChoice‚ e.tv and Kwese Sports.

Most of the bodies argued during the hearings that the proposed regulations would ‘kill’ sport in the country as they rely heavily on money they generate from selling television rights.

Gongxeka-Seopa added that before Icasa release the final and binding regulations in September there will be another round of hearings between May and June for the public and interested stakeholders to make their final inputs to the draft regulations.

“Around June this year‚ we will publish the final draft of the regulations and the public will be offered the opportunity to have their say‚” she said.

“We therefore encourage civil society organisations‚ community interest groups‚ broadcasters‚ the sports fraternity and ordinary South Africans to participate in this process so as to enable Icasa to make informed decisions and conclusions that are indeed in the public interest.

“We had public hearings in May last year‚ subsequent to which we had to analyse the information that we received. Where clarity was required‚ we engaged with those different stakeholders.

“They did provide additional information we needed in August last year. Now that we have that information‚ we have a document that is almost ready in a draft format.

“We are also required by law to consult with the ministers of communication and of sport and recreation before we conclude these regulations‚ and we have done that and continue to do so.”

Gongxeka-Seopa said based on the submissions it received during the second phase of consultations‚ Icasa will decide whether or not to have public hearings.

“As soon as we are done consulting extensively as required by‚ among others‚ the promotion of administrative legislation‚ we should be in a better position to conclude and publish the final regulations in this regard‚” said Gongxeka-Seopa.

She went on to say that Icasa is doing everything within the ambit of the law and will be ready if there is any pushback to the new regulations in the form of litigation.

“Even though we currently do not know what the regulations will finally be like due to continued engagement with affected or interested stakeholders‚ we are mindful of the fact that this is a highly contested terrain and there is potential pushback in the form of litigation from those who may not like the new regulations.

“But we will be ready to discharge our public interest mandate of ensuring that millions of South Africans have access to sports of national interest as envisaged in the broadcasting legislation‚” concluded Gongxeka-Seopa.