The thin line between TV and streaming content is being crossed, and people are not happy. During a presentation to Parliament on Wednesday, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies’ confirmed plans to have all streaming services, that offer content to the country, ensure that 30% of their content for South Africa was locally produced.

“These video-on-demand subscription services, when they come and operate in South Africa, everything that they show to South Africans in terms of their catalogue, 30% of that catalogue must include South African content,” says Collin Mashile, Chief Director of Broadcasting Policy at the Department of Communications. “In every country, the most popular shows remain the local shows.”

“Under paragraph 5.2.8, where we deal with the Promotion of South African Content and languages, the Draft White Paper, in paragraph, indicates that in respect of on-demand content services targeting South African audiences, they should also have South African content obligations,” Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said in response to written parliamentary questions from DA Deputy Chief Whip Michael Waters.

The 30% content requirement should be set by the regulator in a gradual manner based on the specific streaming service, proposes the draft white paper.

In October, the Department presented their controversial Draft White Paper on Audio and Visual Content Services Policy Framework, which argues that in the past 25 years, South Africa’s legal framework for broadcasting regulation has become out of tune with the rapid technological developments and the inevitable forces of the fourth Industrial Revolution.

It also states that the current statutory definition of broadcasting services is too narrow and platform-specific in its application by the regulation to capture the range of new audiovisual content services proliferating online beyond the borders of nation states.

The proposed policy framework focuses on expanding definitions and thresholds for regulating these services. These include new definitions for ‘audio and audiovisual content services’, ‘broadcasting’, ‘on-demand content service’, ‘on-demand audiovisual content service’, ‘on-demand audio content service’, ‘user-generated video’ and ‘video sharing platform service’.

Under this proposal, a TV Licence could be extended to cover use of pay-TV services like DStv as well as video-on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The public are encouraged to comment on the proposal, which has already received over 20 000 comments. The comment period has been extended to February 15, 2021. If you would like to have your say, please read the proposals HERE and email your comments to [email protected].

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