Tuesday, April 6, 2010

From SOS: Communications Minister dissolves Digital Dzonga Advisory Council

Please read the following statement:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS DISSOLVES DIGITAL DZONGA ADVISORY COUNCIL

01 April 2010

The Minister of Communications General (Ret) Siphiwe Nyanda today held a meeting with members of the Digital Dzonga Advisory Council.

The Digital Dzonga Advisory Council was appointed by the Minister of Communications to advise the Minister on and oversee the complex process of migrating South Africa’s analogue broadcasting services to a new digital technology known as digital terrestrial television or DTT.

The 12 member Council consists of representatives from every sector including the ICT industry, broadcasting, labour and consumer groups.

The Council was appointed in 2008.

Minister Nyanda told the members that he received a report suggesting a possible conflict of interest by some of the members of the Council.

This was due to the fact that most members are employed by organizations that have interests, directly or indirectly, in the value chain of the migration process.

The Minister feels that the Department of Communications and the migration process shouldn’t be compromised as a result of this issue.

In the wake of these issues, Minister Nyanda has taken a decision to dissolve the Digital Dzonga Council with a view to reconstitute it urgently.

Invitations for nomination of suitable candidates will be issued shortly.

Minister Nyanda thanked the outgoing members of the Council for their contribution.

“I wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to you for laying a solid foundation for this crucial project. It is my belief that we will be able to use this basis you have laid to ensure an efficient and smooth migration process.”

The Council’s outgoing chairperson Lara Kantor thanked the Minister, on behalf of the entire Council, for the opportunity afforded to them to be part of this process.

Issued by

Ministry of Communications

The Minister of Communications has dissolved the Digital Dzonga Advisory Council. The Advisory Council and Digital Dzonga were set up under the previous Minister. The Advisory Council consists of a number of important stakeholders involved in the digital migration process including government, ICASA, signal distributors, broadcasters, equipment manufacturers and consumers. As you will see below the Department is saying that there are potential conflict of interest issues. This seems to refer to the equipment manufacturers on the Council. The Minister has called for the Council to be dissolved. He will then call for new public nominations.

To date the mandate of the Council has been as follows:
  • Providing a forum for discussion and decisions by digital migration stakeholders in all matters related to migration.
  • Giving strategic direction to the Minister and Dept regarding the migration to digital
  • Making recommendations regarding the implementation of the Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy
  • Developing an implementation plan for migration to digital broadcasting
  • Coordinating and monitoring the implementation plan
  • Communications to the general public
  • Providing oversight of the Digital Dzonga Project Office based in the DOC
For your information please here to find the TORs, including the appointment procedures of the Advisory Council. Also, please click here for government's Broadcasting Digital Migration Policy. Also, if you would like further information on digital migration issues and what it will mean for television please go to www.godigital.co.za

After discussion with a number of you I think the following is important:
  • The concept of a Digital Dzonga advisory council including all the significant stakeholders is a sound one. The digital migration process is complex and multi-faceted and requires all stakeholders on board. Further, this certainly follows international best practice.
  • To date the Digital Dzonga has generally done very good work, it has done significant research and made a number of solid recommendations on issues such as manufacturing standards etc. Where it has been slow it has generally been because government has been slow to implement its recommendations. One area where it has been slow has been around communication issues to the general public. Unfortunately the Dept has not been very supportive here.
  • The important point going forward is that government should be swifter in its implementation of the Advisory Council's recommendations.
  • Certainly if there are conflict of interest problems these must be dealt with but the process of digital migration must not be slowed down by the dissolving of the Council. The Minster must move swiftly to call for new public nominations.
Do comment on these issues if you would like to.

Warm regards
Kate